Jonah Goldberg

If you peruse the incalculably valuable website - which translates articles, manifestoes and broadcasts from across the Arabic world - you will find countless declarations from Islamist groups declaring that democracy is an "atheist" heresy that replaces the law of God with the law of man, and that anyone who advocates elections is ipso facto an infidel. In his December statement, Osama Bin Laden "ruled" - as if he has any right to do so - that Iraqi forces who aid the upcoming elections "are apostates who should not be prayed over upon their deaths. They cannot inherit, and they must not be inherited from [after their deaths]. Their wives are divorced from them, and they must not be buried in Muslim cemeteries."

Sure sounds like someone hates democracy to me.

Those who pooh-pooh the notion that our enemies hate freedom believe that such ideologically totalitarian movements can exist within their own borders indefinitely. All we have to do is treat them like a hornet's nest and don't upset them (no matter that they topple their own governments and seek ever more conquests).

Unfortunately, we live in a world where a bunch of antidemocratic and homicidal zealots can make life dangerous for all of us. "Not our fight," the president's critics seem to say. But if they're wrong, thousands or millions could die as a result. And, like it or not, that fight is in Iraq right now.

For the first time in a hard-fought, bloody, and at times metaphysically depressing couple of years, it looks like there's cause for optimism there. Indications are that turnout will be high in Sunday's elections. Sunni leaders now say they want a role in constructing the new constitution. Zarqawi's prized bomb-making lieutenant was captured, and interim Prime Minister Allawi is gaining support.

But the best news from Iraq in a while is Zarqawi's forceful and forthright rejection of democracy and freedom as a principle. He doesn't want a more "authentic" democracy, he wants to kill it. This alone gives Iraqis, particularly the Sunnis he claims to represent, a stark choice: Accept the painful but promising path of elections, or side with the man most responsible for the car-bombings of mosques and markets, who would replace Saddam's nationalist totalitarianism for a new religious one ruled by foreigners like him and Bin Laden. Given that choice, who can doubt the Iraqis will vote with their hearts and ballots for what's behind Curtain No. 1.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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