As Americans went to the polls to engage in a peaceful – if hotly contested – transition of power, Iraqis suffered another day of violence that threatens their fledgling democracy.

The difference between the two sets of images was stark. In one, people lined up at local polling stations to express how they want to be governed for the next two years. In the other people were picking through the rubble searching for survivors.

Insurgents unleashed a string of coordinated bomb attacks in Bagdahd in the worst string of violence since the summer.

Officials counted 63 dead and more than 200 injured. The targets were not government buildings or military targets, but places where people gathered to spend a warm autumn evening.

The attacks come two days after the siege of a Catholic church. The country has been seven months without a new government, mired in a political stalemate over the disputed results of the last parliamentary election.

The insurgent’s goal was to disrupt the sense of normalcy and progress that led to the U.S. decision to end combat operations and turn security of the country over to Iraqi forces.

That decision came after seven years of warfare and tremendous sacrifices of American lives and treasure. The security of Iraq is rightly in the hands of the people of Iraq, and while we should support their efforts attacks like these should not be seen as a reason for the United State to resume a combat role.

Ultimately, it’s up to the Iraqi people to decide if they want to live in conflict or order, or if they will resolve their differences through government institutions or through chaos in the streets.

Many political observers in this country have pointed out that American politics are as polarized as they have been in half a century.

Control of the government lurches from one party to the other and there is little interest in working toward compromise.

But voters here still believe that their votes matter and that the expression of their will at the polls is the best way to effect change.

The people of Iraq will have to figure out how to establish their system if the violence is ever going to end.