AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake A Dec. 15 Associated Press story reported that several rocket explosions were heard in Baghdad on election day; a mortar shell hit near a polling station in the northern city of Tal Afar; a bomb exploded in Ramadi; another bomb was detonated at a voting site in Fallujah; a mortar round struck about 200 yards from a polling place in Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit; and a grenade killed a school guard near a voting site in Mosul. Tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers and police guarded polling centers. Bomb-sniffing dogs searched everywhere. And Iraqis walked miles to vote, as vehicles were banned because of threats of car bombs. Not only did Iraqis persevere, but they did so in droves. Election officials were forced to extend voting for one hour due to long lines. The press accounts remind me of those from January, when Iraqis voted for a national assembly. I vividly recall stories of maintenance workers sweeping up charred chunks of human flesh from around the feet of Iraqis who refused to leave their spots in line as they waited to cast ballots. In another incident, Iraqi terrorists suited up a man who had Down syndrome with a suicide vest; anything to halt what Al-Qaida ringleader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi deemed “the evil principle of democracy.” In all, 44 people in Iraq literally died to vote in January’s election, the victims of 38 separate bomb attacks on polling stations, in a voter turnout that exceeded America’s presidential election two months earlier. So, how did that simpleton in the Oval Office – the Idiot-in-Chief, as Michael Moore dubs him – get this one right? What’s his secret? When President George W. Bush insisted that Iraqis, like Afghans before them, would go to the polls to elect their leaders, many of us were skeptical, and not unreasonably. After all, the term “Muslim democracy” has seemed an oxymoron. Of all the areas in the world, the Arab-Muslim Middle East has been the least democratic. A 1999-2000 survey by Freedom House – done, importantly, before September 11, 2001 – found that while 63 percent of nations are technically democracies, an astonishing zero of the 16 Arab countries in the Middle East were democratic, the worst rate on the planet. Against those odds, George W. Bush has attempted to lay the groundwork for Middle East democracy in the two most unlikely, despotic places: the one-time Taliban’s Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Now, after free elections first in Afghanistan, and then repeatedly in Iraq, it looks like the so-called dummy in the White House knew something. Not only did they vote, they voted in huge numbers, with high turnouts, and under threat of horrible violence. The answer: The aspect of his character that, to many on the political left, makes him simple-minded – his religious faith. George W. Bush is convinced that Iraqis, like Afghans, will vote because of an inherent yearning for freedom placed in their hearts by a loving God. It’s actually not a radical idea. Even Thomas Jefferson, the secular saint of modern liberalism, wrote that all human beings are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which is liberty. Iraqis would choose freedom, said Bush, because God had implanted the desire into their DNA. “I have said many times,” Bush reminded journalists in 2003, “that freedom … is the almighty God’s gift to each and every individual. I firmly believe that.” Of course, when Bush made this claim, those who despise him reacted as if he were enunciating some kind of foreign, even fascistic, idea. In fact, Bush said nothing different than what had been said previously by the likes of Jefferson, Madison, Washington, Lincoln, Wilson, FDR, Truman, Kennedy and so on. There’s more to the Bush vision: In that speech to the National Endowment for Democracy, Bush concluded: “The advance of freedom is the calling of our time; it is the calling of our country. … We (Americans) believe that liberty is the design of nature; we believe that liberty is the direction of history. … This is, above all, the age of liberty.” The president made a mistake there: He should have used the singular first person “I,” not “we,” since millions of Americans did not share his optimism for the Middle East. Now, millions of us marvel at how he got it right, and under enormous pressure to reverse course. Paul Kengor is author of “God and George W. Bush.” He is also executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College and a visiting fellow with the Hoover Institution.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
Synonymous with World Cup success, Australia will enter the showpiece with realistic hopes of widening the gulf between them and the rest, having tenaciously rallied from the ball-tampering saga that prompted radical changes in their cricketing culture.The five-time winners have showed exemplary resilience in navigating the tempestuous phase that nearly broke their back and spirit, and the recent away series victories against India and Pakistan are proof of their never-say-die attitude.The much-awaited return of David Warner and Steve Smith from their one-year bans has bolstered the team and boosted the morale of those, who will wear the yellow jersey in the United Kingdom.The squad has completed its World Cup preparatory camp in Brisbane and headed to the the United Kingdom via a stopover in the Gallipoli peninsula.Located in the southern part of East Thrace, the European part of Turkey, Gallipoli peninsula holds great significance in Australia’s history as this was the place where 11,000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers lost their lives in a disastrous Allied military offensive.The most successful one-day side in history, Australia have lifted the trophy a record five times, including three consecutive wins between 1999 and 2007.Winning three on the trot is no doubt unprecedented but such has been Australia’s dominance in the tournament that they emerged victorious even in the 1987 edition when they entered as rank outsiders after the exodus of some of their best players.Hosting the tournament for only the second time four years ago along with New Zealand, Australia were not overwhelming favourites to lift the trophy but they still became champions at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground.advertisementIt will not be surprising at all if the current team, captained by Aaron Finch, triumphs at the hallowed Lord’s on July 14.They certainly have the wherewithal to go all the way and record what could be an unprecedented sixth title.Warner’s year-long international exile has come to an end and with nearly 700 runs in the Indian Premier League, he has sounded a warning to rival bowlers bracing up for the mega event.While he did not quite set the IPL on fire like Warner, Smith showed glimpses of his old touch in the three warm-up matches against New Zealand recently.After finding form in the latter part of the IPL, Smith played well for unbeaten innings of 89 and 91, enough for Justin Langer to say he had “slept better”.Stripped of their roles as captain and vice-captain respectively and banned for 12 months for their involvement in the ball-tampering scandal during the Test series against South Africa in March last year, both Smith and Warner will be using the sport’s biggest platform to make amends for their indiscretion in Cape Town.It remains to be seen if Warner is given his usual opening slot or made to bat at number three. Only once in 104 ODI innings has Warner not gone in as opener.Given the depth of talent and competition for spots there were a number of tough calls the selectors had to make to settle on the 15-man squad.The squad does not include in-form batsman Peter Handscomb and fast bowler Josh Hazlewood, while the likes of D’Arcy Short, Kane Richardson, Ashton Turner and Matthew Wade also missed out, clearly showing the depth in the setup.A depth that augurs well for them in the World Cup.Squad: Aaron Finch (capt), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam ZampaAlso Read | Chris Gayle set to be peerless at World Cup 2019 but in danger of unwanted recordAlso Read | Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard included in West Indies reserve players list for 2019 World CupAlso See