No one should pretend, of course, that the violence will now end rapidly. But the display of determination by all Iraqis to participate in the democratic process must have made a deep impression on all but the most hardened terrorists. The fact that so many Sunnis trooped to the polling stations for the first time, having boycotted the previous two national votes, sends the clear message that the community which most of the insurgents pretend to represent wants peace, not violence. Nor are they prepared to be intimidated by the killers in their midst. They want to become part of the political process.
Beginning today, this is democracy’s chance in Iraq. Massive hopes are riding on the success of the political process. Nevertheless, providing men of moderation can hold the center ground and bring more extreme politicians at least to its edge, the new Parliament can work. A muscular broad-based administration will only emerge if politicians are prepared to work together for the greater good. Now is not the time for individual political aspirations to come to the fore. Future Iraqis will honor all those who today focus on stability rather than their own ambitions.
(Updated to remove the evidence of a horrible cutting-and-pasting accident. Lesson: don't post while half-asleep.)