There was nothing surprising about the stunned looks I got last Friday as I stood at the entrance to the girls school in Swafiyeh, handed the guards and the representative of the Iraqi elections committee an Israeli passport and declared my wish to register to vote in the elections to the Iraqi parliament, which would begin in Jordan exactly a week later.
The elections official asked to see some document attesting to my connection to Iraq and the belittling look on his face was replaced by one of sincere astonishment when I gave him my grandparents' 1951 laissez-passez. After pointing out my father's name on the yellowing certificate and presenting a signed and notarized translation of a document proving I am his son, the mustachioed Iraqi ordered me to wait. He disappeared into the big building with my passport and the Smooha family's most precious document, leaving me with the guards at the entrance.
A scant five minutes later it was my turn to be surprised. The mustachioed one, smiling broadly, appeared at the edge of the school's inner courtyard, instructed the guards in Arabic to let me in, and then turned to me in English: "Welcome. Please follow me." When I strode with him into one of the classrooms manned by Iraqi elections officials, another surprise awaited me. The four women and young man seated behind small desks had been apprised of the Israeli's approach and they were waiting for me, all smiling.
It's wonderful to see so much of the Left's vicious pessimism proven wrong at once. I feel the same way I felt when Reagan and Gorbachev sat down and casually, almost flippantly, signed away the end of the Cold War. Jesus Jones should re-release Right Here, Right Now except that, being successful musicians, they're probably Guardian-reading Bush-hating twats. Tsk.
I'm going to stick my neck out and make some predictions now.
By the end of Bush's presidency, there will be at least three more genuine democracies in the Middle East, with more teetering on the brink.
The good work will go on after Bush finishes, because the Democrats won't win the Presidency without embracing the Bush Doctrine though I'm sure they'll call it something else to save face.
Iraqis will build a monument to Bush, and maybe to Blair, and definitely to Coalition soldiers.
Within five years, Iraq will be one of the world's most important economies. And not just because of the oil.
Iraq and Israel will become official allies, and probably guarantors of each other's security.
There will be massive celebrations in Iraq on the thirtieth of January every year for generations. This will be their Fourth of July. The celebrations might well involve everyone symbolically staining their fingers purple.
Maybe I'm too optimistic. But it all seems quite realistic now.
A woman on the radio talks about revolution
But it's already passed her by.