With a history of negative reporting in the months preceding the Iraqi election, I had to wonder what would pass as "news" come the hours following election day.
Arab reaction to Iraq elections
By CNN Senior Arab Affairs Editor Octavia Nasr
The above CNN article contains excerpts from 7 different Arab media. Four of the three sing of hope and rebirth. A Jordanian (home to al Zarqawi) and Qatar publication both have negative cartoons, portraying a scene that never came to be. And al Jazeera bemoaned it's inability to spread it's propaganda within the nation due to a ban imposed by the Iraqi Interim Government, and managed to find a few in Falluja who weren't planning on heading to the polls.
'What a bloody charade'
By Robert Fisk, The Sunday Independent (South Africa)
Mr. Fisk oozes doom'n'gloom with each paragraph. He mocks the US military presence there to enable voters to travel to the polls with as much safety as possible, followed up by a paragraph about a "fierce battle" in the Green Zone. Forget the fact that the violence that day was not out of the norm for any other day, and especially light when considering Zarqawi had declared "war on election day", threatening the streets will run red with blood.
Mr. Fisk thinks the terrorists are winning. He snidely bandies about the terms "freedom" and "democracy", implying they are little more than advertising sales campaigns by the media. Predictions of future failure, suggestions that the election will produce nothing more than a glib form of "democracy", and equating US soldiers with terrorists as "the foreign fighters" provide the mainstay content.
If you want your blood to boil, this is your article...
New Dawn in Iraq
By Hassan Hanizadeh, Tehran Times
There's a vote of cautious optimism from Iran's Tehran Times. A direct opposite of Mr. Fisk's offering above. Indeed, Mr. Hanizadeh even admits that Iraq's tyranny could not have existed without the support of other Arab nations.
After enduring eight decades of dictatorship and crime, the Iraqi nation has taken the first steps on the path toward a bright future and democracy -- a new phenomenon in Arab world.
The Iraqi people have experienced great suffering due to dictatorships, geopolitical conditions, and demography.
And, unfortunately, some neighboring Arab countries played a direct role in setting up despotic governments in Iraq, since they cannot tolerate the rule of democracy in Iraq due to its complicated ethnic makeup.
Indisputable evidence discovered after the fall of the Baath regime showed that Saddam Hussein could not have committed such crimes against his own people without these Arab states’ support.
Perhaps the most heartwarming coverage comes from my favorite Tennessean journalist, Tim Chavez.
Mr. Chavez devoted 2/3rds of his column to reactions from soldiers families... those who have paid the highest of prices for the Iraqis dawn of hope. I have duplicated these comments below.
The importance of the Iraqi vote in history is undeniable. The sacrifice of Tennesseans and Americans in dying for this birth will be remembered forever in the war on terror. But only families of the fallen can say whether the deaths for a new democracy were worth the cost.
''I remember Brent saying he knew he could die over this, but he wanted to help these people have freedom, especially the kids,'' said Mike Morel of McKenzie. His son, Capt. Brent Morel, died in Iraq saving his convoy from ambush. ''He felt this was the most important thing he could do. He also likened it to our Revolutionary War.''
Brent's mom, Molly, adds: ''He was prepared (for the possibility of dying) because it was a battle that needed to be fought. Not only was he thinking of the Iraqis, but he didn't want other American generations to have to fight terrorists. As his mother, I proudly watch this important step that he believed in so deeply. I think about him looking down from heaven with a smile and a big Marine 'Ooh rah!' ''
Cpl. Patrick Nixon was the first Tennessean killed in the Iraq war. He led a charge to secure a bridge into Baghdad.
''I agree that this day is being made possible because of the sacrifices of soldiers, Marines, Navy and airmen and their families,'' said David Nixon of Gallatin, Patrick's father. ''Patrick and others have given their full measure for this day to come about, but I'm not certain that they understood that. They were there to remove an evil man and his regime from power and in so doing have brought the possibility of a free Iraq.
''There have been huge sacrifices made on their behalf (Iraqis), and if they don't take advantage of it, they will get what they deserve and Pat's and others' sacrifices will have been for naught. I hope to God that this will not be the case. I don't believe that we can allow the madness of the insurgents to continue. We need to do whatever is necessary to eliminate them.''
Donna Berg of Franklin was like a second mother to Patrick, who was best friends with her son, Johnathan. Both enlisted in the Marines together.
''Patrick believed in his mission,'' Berg said. ''Upon leaving for battle, he did not want any tears and, I believe, would not want any tears and regrets now.
''He wanted support for himself and his comrades and requested our prayers. He and all who served honorably carried out their mission, with selflessness and generosity, to give the Iraqi people a chance to be free.
''The Iraqis will hopefully honor their sacrifice and act with like courage and determination to protect that gift.''
For Patrick's comrades, the elections provide new dangers. But Lt. Col. Mark Smith, who leads a Marine reservist unit in Iraq's most hostile region, emphasized their cause in a recent e-mail to families:
''Let me offer you two quotes. The first is from Abu Musab al Zarqawi: 'We have declared a bitter war against the principle of democracy and all those who seek to enact it.'
''The second is from Thomas Jefferson on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence: 'May it be to the world what I believe it will be (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all), the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition has persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government.'
''On whom do you want the hope of the world to rest? AMZ or Thomas Jefferson?'' Lt. Col. Smith asked.
''The Arab world must be shown freedom. I fully realize that this stands in stark contrast to others' opinions and squarely calls out most of what is portrayed in the mainstream media, but your Marines are not fighting and, in some very unfortunate cases, dying, for anything less than this.''
New democracies can only be born and old ones survive if men and women are willing to die for an ideal and loved ones are willing to endure personal loss for the greater gain of all.