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January 29, 2005

Keeping our fingers crossed here at the Castle.

It is now dusk in Baquba, a city that lies thirty-five miles Northeast of Baghdad, along the edge of the Sunni Triangle. The streets are quiet. Vehicular traffic has been banned today, a curfew is due to come into effect soon after dark. Mothers hurry home from the markets. Children scurry to keep up with them. Election posters cling to the walls and streetlights. The city is filled with expectations. The vast majority of the people realize what is at stake here. They are ready to cast their ballots tomorrow, to elect representatives who will govern them and craft a new constitution for their nation. They are eager to write a new chapter in the history of their country. Meanwhile, the enemies of freedom lurk in the dark alleyways of this city. Domestic and foreign terrorists lie in wait. They fear not only the outcome of the vote, but the very process itself. They want to halt the inexorable march of freedom. They may try to disrupt the voting. No matter what happens tomorrow, they are doomed to failure in the long run. The elections will take place, the citizens of Baquba will cast their ballots. The transformation of Iraq is about to commence. Still, this is not the end of the beginning; nor the beginning of the end; it is the beginning of the beginning. Sunday will mark the first step on the long road to political and moral recovery in Iraq – and in the region. When the sun rises, the people will speak.

As the elections get underway in Iraq. I'm not going to blog it much - not because I don't care, but because there are other people out there who will do it much better than I.

My job was to kill people, break things, control what's left - then turn it back over to the politicians and diplomats. Of course, nothing is that simple - but I know the difference between an opinion and an informed opinion. I don't feel in this issue, my opinion on this subject, as a blogger, is informed enough to pontificate.

But I want this to succeed, even knowing it won't necessarily produce a strong friend and ally in the region. But if the Iraqis will seize the day, and move forward - then this will have been worth it. That, and the 1400+ other times that scene has played out these last 2 years.

So - in addition to all the Usual Suspects® for that stuff (Michele, Wizbang, Dean, Blackfive, Smash, LGF, INDC, Malkin, Reynolds, Jawa Report, Backcountry Conservative - fill-in-the-blank MSM outlet, heck, I'll bet KOS will have something interesting, especially if things go badly), I'll just offer up these lists of blogs from people on the ground:

Greyhawk and his list.

Live From Baghdad.

Spirit of America.

Friends of Democracy.

Well, people of Iraq - you have a chance to change history. You can move forward, into the light, or backwards, back to the Darkness promised by al-Zarqawi and bin Laden. Remember - Who Dares, Wins. During the election, you can all be The Man in the Arena, and help birth a new chapter in the history of the region. And, despite what people think - it doesn't mean you have to be American lackeys, either.

The Man in the Arena? From Teddy Roosevelt's speech to the Sorbonne, Paris, France, April 23, 1910. I've got this etched in metal hanging on my wall - it has been my favorite quote for as long as I can remember - it hung in my office wherever I commanded or led. It's why I was a jock, and a soldier - and why I have such trouble any more watching sports, or TV coverage of the war - I always itch to be In The Arena. Hell, I irked my O/C bosses at the National Training Center - it's how I opened the AARs I led, they took it as a criticism of O/Cs (of which I was one) - I used it to point out to the unit that the only person who is going to solve the problems I helped them to discover was themselves... the Man in the Arena.

From Memory:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Mike at Cold Fury sums up the whole thing nicely.

And, as Alan of GenX@40, the Castle's resident Designated Token Lefty (DTL) points out: There are even some people helping on the QT who just might surprise you.

Well, let's just hope they are right.

Hey - I said "not pontificate," not that I wouldn't be all wordy!