Friday, January 28, 2005

Our New Iraqi Leaders: "We Want to Be Like the Rest of the World"

I have pointed out that liberty requires more than just a "yearning of the human heart"—that it requires certain cultural and intellectual foundations. But the lesson of Ukraine's "Orange Revolution" is that we should not underestimate the intellectual power of the example set by the free and prosperous West—a force captured here in one Kurd's declaration that "we want to be like the rest of the world."

"In Kurdish North, Campaign Turns into Street Party," Jackie Spinner, Washington Post, 1/28/05

"IRBIL, Iraq, Jan. 27—Adnan Ismael raced to the back of the campaign bus carrying supporters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and frantically pulled aside a dark blue curtain so he could see out. Hundreds of honking cars were following behind in an impromptu rolling celebration late Thursday afternoon through this ancient city. Passengers hung out of vehicles, shouting and waving the yellow flag of the KDP and the red, white, and green flag of the Kurdish semiautonomous region here in northern Iraq. Ismael turned from the window, a stunned look on his face.... 'We were dreaming for this day to come,' said Ismael, the KDP leader for Irbil's Tajil district, who darted back and forth to get a look at the scene unfolding on every side of the bus. 'Now we will all choose our representatives for the future. Every Kurd wishes to see this day.'...

" 'I am very happy,' said Faruq Nabil, 24, a laborer with thick black hair and green eyes. 'Since I was born, this is the first time I will go and elect the government. I want to thank Mr. George W. Bush for his efforts in making this happen.' Sarbaz Qader, who owns a small bicycle repair shop, said he was overwhelmed with joy. 'I will vote, and I am not afraid of anyone, whoever he is,' Qader said.... 'We waited for this a long time,' [Raqeeb Shekhan] said, his head wrapped in a black and white traditional headdress. 'We've ached for this freedom. We want to be like the rest of the world.' "

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