Iraq Vote Is Only the First Step Along Long Path As the results of the weekend's vote on the Iraqi constitution continue to be tallied and confirmed, senior news analyst Daniel Schorr reflects that this milestone may only be a mile-marker on the long road towards a peaceful democracy in Iraq.
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Iraq Vote Is Only the First Step Along Long Path

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Iraq Vote Is Only the First Step Along Long Path

Iraq Vote Is Only the First Step Along Long Path

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Over the weekend, Iraqis voted on a new constitution. All indications are that the charter will pass, though the votes are still be counted. And late today, The Associated Press reports that the country's Election Commission will recheck some of the results. The commission says there are unusually high vote totals in some areas.

Despite the questions, Iraqi and American leaders are hailing the referendum. NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr has these thoughts.

DANIEL SCHORR:

The success of Saturday's constitutional referendum in Iraq must be measured more in terms of what did not happen than what did. Although on Saturday six American Marines and soldiers were killed by roadside bombs, nationwide the level of violence was fairly low and did not scare off would-be voters, who turned out in greater numbers than in the January election. And while Sunnis, by and large, voted against the constitution, the `no' vote apparently fell short of the two-thirds and three provinces that would have killed the new charter. And so the democratic process on which the Bush administration banks so heavily survives another day, thanks in large part to an adroit, last-minute deal that would leave the constitution open to further amendment.

But the Bush administration no longer talks of the democratic process as the final answer to insurgency, the road to an Iraq at peace within and without. Six months ago, the president was saying that in a democratic Iraq, the terrorists would lose their recruits and their hopes of radicalizing the region. Yesterday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on Sunday talk shows, said that with strong Sunni participation, the base of the political process has expanded in Iraq. And the president talked of the referendum in subdued tones, saying he was pleased at the relatively low level of violence.

Mr. Bush has lately taken to talking of the insurgency as a long-term threat. He appears to take seriously the manifestos purportedly written by Osama bin Laden and his lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri, calling for violent struggle across the Islamic world.

The Iraqis may succeed in creating a government and staving off a sectarian civil war, but it now looks as though the beleaguered government, supported by dwindling American forces, will be contending with an insurgency for many years. And so its seems that the constitution is only one step in a long and difficult journey. This is Daniel Schorr.

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