Good news from Iraq with some context

It should go without saying that today's Iraqi elections are the most hopeful sign out of Iraq for quite awhile. Turnout figures which I've seen range from 57-72%. Where ever it actually ends up, this is really great news. Furthermore, the insurgency was clearly unable to really disrupt the elections, which should cause them to lose adherents as it made them appear weak. While they were able to murder 44 people, expectations were far worse. While there is nothing wrong with war supporters putting up exuberant posts following the days events, it would be great if they could stop trying to make grand points out particular of left/ liberal bloggers not saying anything about the elections. I find the blog discussions based entirely upon similar sins of omission so tiresome.

To take an example that some on the right are criticized over, if you don't have anything to say in a discussion on torture and abuse of detainees, I really don't see anything wrong with not saying anything. Absence of condemnation should not be taken as approval or as denial. If someone is approving or denying torture, that is of course grounds for serious criticism. In general though, until someone makes a positive committment to a position, I don't see a reason to go after them over their inaction.

For an interesting perspective on what the days events mean, see Kieran Healy's discussion of how the key feature of democracies is governments accepting loss. Therefore, it won't really be possible to see if there is a functioning democracy until the winners of this election are opposed and either obey the rule of law and step down or ignore the results.

Also, see Yglesias, going off of what Kieran says, bringing in the situation in Afghanistan, and adding some key points. Especially nice is this last graf:

If Iraq winds up in an okay state, all those opportunity costs will be forgotten and war opponents will (unjustly) appear to have been discredited by events. That's wrong, but I could live with it. It would be better, certainly, then us achieving public vindication by a spiral in which things get worse and worse. Speaking reality-based, war proponents have been thoroughly discredited ever since the national security case (WMD plus al-Qaeda ties) fell apart a long, long time ago. Anyone who actually proposed an undertaking on this scale for purely humanitarian purposes would be laughed out of the room, and rightly so. Beyond that, the odds of real success remain long, and even if we do succeed the humanitarian benefits of the massive increase in the Iraqi death rate caused by this adventure seem questionable.