Two of America's leading newspapers see the Iraqi elections as a remarkable display of courage by millions of people, Iraqis who suffered for years under dictatorship and now want to live in a free and peaceful country.

In an editorial Monday, The New York Times says the turnout by Iraqi voters sent "a message that all but the most nihilistic of the [country's] armed insurgents will have to accept."

The newspaper says "all those who claim to be fighting in the name of the Iraqi people should now recognize" that average Iraqis clearly want future political battles to be fought not in the streets, but "exclusively in the peaceful, constitutional arena."

The Times has criticized President Bush's policy on Iraq frequently in the past, and says it continues to have "grave doubts about the overall direction of American strategy," but it calls Sunday's vote "remarkably successful."

Here in the U.S. capital, The Washington Post says the world saw a new picture of Iraq Sunday, "one in which millions of people from all over the country turned out to vote, even in places where their nominal leaders had proclaimed a boycott, even at polling stations where mortar rounds fell or gunfire rang out."

"The day's message was unmistakable," the newspaper's editorial today says. "The majority of Iraqis support the emerging democratic order in their country, and many are willing to risk their lives for it."