Of those Americans who will carp about Iraq’s elections being no better than a census (with the country cleaving along sectarian/ethnic lines), and who will underscore many other imperfections, I would simply ask that they look at their own history. It took the U.S. until 1787 to adopt the Constitution, until 1870 to (very imperfectly) enfranchise black adult males, until 1920 to enfranchise adult females, and until 1964-65 to guarantee voting rights to black citizens. Democracies go through a very long process of consolidation. It will not take the Iraqis anywhere near as long as it took us, because there are examples for them to emulate, or to beware of. It takes time—sometimes a very long time—to apportion power among different groups within a nascent political system. What Iraq has achieved in five years is a political wonder, and those who would deny that are being very, very dishonest.
–Tunku Varadarajan. Read it all.