Thomas L. Friedman in the New York Times:
As we approach the season of the Nobel Peace Prize, I would like to nominate the spiritual leader of Iraq’s Shiites, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, for this year’s medal. I’m serious.
If there is a decent outcome in Iraq, President Bush will deserve, and receive, real credit for creating the conditions for democratization there, by daring to topple Saddam Hussein. But we tend to talk about Iraq as if it is all about us and what we do. If some kind of democracy takes root there, it will also be due in large measure to the instincts and directives of the dominant Iraqi Shiite communal leader, Ayatollah Sistani. It was Mr. Sistani who insisted that there had to be a direct national election in Iraq, rejecting the original goofy U.S. proposal for regional caucuses. It was Mr. Sistani who insisted that the elections not be postponed in the face of the Baathist-fascist insurgency. And it was Mr. Sistani who ordered Shiites not to retaliate for the Sunni Baathist and jihadist attempts to drag them into a civil war by attacking Shiite mosques and massacring Shiite civilians.