This is the payoff. This was always the most important reason for the invasion of Iraq. I am a bit surprised by how fast it's beginning to happen, but I never doubted that any of this would eventually take place. It was always the goal of what we did.
But it is not really the Iraqi election that set this off. It was, in fact, the US election that did it. The entire region held its breath because it needed an answer to this question: Will the Americans see this through? When Bush won, the answer was "yes". Now they know that there will be four more years of American pressure, and they know that 4 years is a long time and a lot can be accomplished in that time.
If Kerry had won in November, turnout in the Iraqi election would have been low and none of the rest of this would have happened. A Kerry victory would have been treated in the region as an indication that the Americans had given up.
Amen brother. Even this, a dog that didn't bark, seems encouraging as hell. Let's hope Lebanon gets what it deserves after decades of pain and destruction, and the Palestinians figure out who the real enemies are. As Varifrank says, I knew it was going to be a crazy century, but I thought it would take a little longer . . .