There has been so much violence in Iraq that it's become hard to distinguish one senseless act from another. But there was a picture that ran on the front page of this newspaper on Monday that really got to me. It showed several Iraqi gunmen, in broad daylight and without masks, murdering two Iraqi election workers. The murder scene was a busy street in the heart of Baghdad. The two election workers had been dragged from their car into the middle of the street. They looked young, the sort of young people you'd see doing election canvassing in America or Ukraine or El Salvador.
One was kneeling with his arms behind his back, waiting to be shot in the head. Another was lying on his side. The gunman had either just pumped a bullet into him or was about to. I first saw the picture on the Internet, and I did something I've never done before - I blew it up so it covered my whole screen. I wanted to look at it more closely. You don't often get to see the face of pure evil.
This mention of Ukraine is depressing, and the photo is even more so. It's true that "you don't often get to see the face of pure evil" - but some places offer more chances than others.
Kyiv, hopefully, isn't on the verge of becoming a place like Baghdad.
We, after all, are experiencing an influx of international election observers (I don't remember the numbers but is it something like 7,000 people?), while the Jan. 30 election in Iraq will most likely be observed - or assessed - from a safer place, Jordan:
Representatives of seven nations met in Ottawa this week to recruit international observers for the Iraqi elections and agreed to watch the vote, but from the safety of Amman, Jordan.
They said it was too dangerous to monitor the voting in Iraq, meaning international observers are unlikely for the elections on Jan. 30 - making them the first significant vote of this sort recently with no foreign presence, United Nations officials say.