Wednesday, January 11, 2006

THE IRAQ WAR MUST BE the only one in history where success is defined as "anything that happens." It's easy to claim that progress toward democracy is being made when both elections and suicide bombings are held out as signs of democracy at work. If millions of Iraqis vote, that's a sign of democracy. If hundreds of Iraqis are killed by political violence, that's a sign of democracy, too.

Speaking to members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Bush said that in the coming weeks Iraq is likely to be the scene of "a good deal of political turmoil" as factions jockey for position and vie for power. Rather than being alarmed by those developments, he said, "we should welcome this for what it is: freedom in action."

Just like the looting and violence after the U.S. overthrow of Saddam Hussein was a sign of freedom. "Freedom's untidy," observed Donald Rumsfeld. "Free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. They're also free to live their lives and do wonderful things."

So the continuing insurgency is actually proof that Iraqis are creating a thriving democracy. And if the insurgency had never happened -- and we all know now that it never occurred to the Bush administration for one moment that it would happen -- then that would have been hailed as proof that freedom and democracy were "on the march" in Iraq.

You cannot lose when both violence and peace, both elections and bombings, both insurgency and cooperation, both successes and failures, are seen as proof of success.

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