I am very proud of Iraq, and what the ordinary heroes of that nation have achieved as they emerge from the dark sham into the light of authenticity. This is a true victory for the Iraqi people.
However - democracy is but a tool by which liberty is attained, and Liberty is hard. Interpreting this election as a measure of liberty's inevitability is perhaps the greatest threat to Iraq's democracy, fledgling and still vulnerable as it is. I want to see that tree grow; it certainly has been watered enough by the blood of Iraqi patriots (and American ones).
Here lies a genuine danger. One could look at the voting and conclude that the Sunni insurgents recognized the futility of violent struggle and are now trying to excercize power via political channels. This is obviously the desired result.
However, one might instead interpret the results as follows: the Sunni electorate - despite massive and record turnout, was still unable to clear a pretty low bar for exerting their influence. Despite significant Sunni populations in four provinces, they were unable to achieve a majority in the three required to block passage. Couple this verification of political impotence with unfounded yet widely published allegations of fraud, and what conclusion might a Sunni draw?
These elections were marked by relative calm (compared to the previous ones). I think if that calm persists, then the fears above are unfounded. However, a steady return to violence might be the seeds of a disastrous civil war, the worst possible outcome and failure of our efforts and sacrifices in Iraq that can be imagined.
I am a believer in the need to finish what we have started in Iraq. My concerns are driven by the desire to see that success be nurtured through this stark and still critical phase. A single misstep can be fatal, so we must not blind ourselves with this latest victory to the enormity of the task yet ahead.