Iraqi election only first step to freedom

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 11, 2005

No sooner than the last Iraqi ballot was cast and the last newly freed finger dipped in the now famous purple-blue ink, the insurgents tricked us again.

Prior to the Jan. 30 election in Iraq, all of the worry was about what would happen on Election Day.

Would the threat of an attack encourage voters to stay home? That was the fear.

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All eyes were on the build-up to the election.

Then, as dawn emerged in Iraq, and the voters came out, an amazing thing happened - the election went off without much of a hitch.

Smiles poured out across the administration and Iraq. The elections were largely judged a success - twofold.

First, lots of people came out and voted. It seemed the lure of a chance to offer an opinion outweighed the fear of possible attacks.

Second, since the anticipated attacks didn't materialize - at least in the volume many people feared - the general feeling was that freedom defeated the insurgents.

It was a nice feeling.

Unfortunately, it only lasted for a day or two before the real colors of the insurgents came out. Just like the terrorists who struck the United States when we least expected it, the insurgents didn't attack when we expected; they attacked after the heightened sense of alert had subsided.

In the days since the election, the insurgents have come out of their rat holes and begun to fight again.

On Thursday, for example, insurgents attacked with remote-controlled car bombs and other weapons. Their main targets appeared to be the most visible sign of the burgeoning Iraqi government - its police force.

More than a dozen Iraqi security personnel were killed in a single attack in Salman Pak. The gun battle wounded more than 60 police.

The attacks prove that the nation is far from secure and despite efforts to simple have U.S. troops pull out, that's not the quick answer. We need to redouble our efforts to train more Iraqi security personnel.

Yes, the election for freedom is complete, but the battle to hold onto that freedom may have just begun.