Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Lebanon Update

Developments could hardly be more pretty or positive:
Lebanon's president was taking on the task of forming a new government Tuesday, while opposition leaders shook off the jubilation of using people power to force out a pro-Syrian Cabinet and sought to ensure the next one is less beholden to Damascus. . .

"We will be here every day until the last Syrian soldier withdraws from our land," one activist said through a loudspeaker. The crowd, blowing whistles, chanted back: "Freedom, Sovereignty, Independence."

They sang in rhyming Arabic: "We are all, Muslims and Christians, against the Syrians."
Though America and France again demanded an "immediate and total withdrawal of all Syrian troops and intelligence agents from Lebanon," Baby Assad won't go without a fight. But, says Publius Pundit (who's providing useful daily Lebanon updates), he's plainly back-pedaling. And, Assad's already agreed to end a longstanding dispute by returning 125 square km of borderland to Jordan.

So what's it all mean? Never mind the dinosaur Democrats--even the Saudi-based Arab News understands that the invasion and democratization of Afghanistan and Iraq erased all previous patterns:
Winds of change are blowing though the region: Elections in Iraq, a successful rebellion against the old establishment in the Palestinian Parliament, constitutional changes on the cards in Egypt and now people power in Lebanon. Until a few weeks ago, change was seen as driven from outside, by the Americans. Those who still think that are clearly wrong. The Americans may have done some of the initial driving but it is now being driven from within. The Middle East is ready for change and wants a change but not only between Palestinian and Israeli.
And Christopher Hitchens sounds "Taps" for another mid-East myth:
The return of politics to Iraq has had many blissful secondary consequences, one of them apparently minor but nonetheless, I think, important. When was the last time you heard some glib pundit employing the phrase "The Arab Street"? I haven't actually done a Nexis search on this, but my strong impression is that the term has been, without any formal interment, laid to rest. And not a minute too soon, either.

In retrospect, it's difficult to decide precisely when this annoying expression began to expire, if only from diminishing returns. There was, first, the complete failure of the said "street" to detonate with rage when coalition forces first crossed the border of Iraq, as had been predicted (and one suspects privately hoped) by so many "experts." . . .

The London-based newspaper Al Quds al-Arabi, which has for some time been a surrogate voice for "insurgent" talk in the Arab diaspora, polled its readers after the Iraqi elections and had the grace to print the result. About 90 percent had been favorably impressed by the sight of Iraqi and Kurdish voters waiting their turn to have a say in their own future. This is a somewhat more accurate use of the demotic thermometer than the promiscuous one to which we have let ourselves become accustomed. Meanwhile, the streets of, say, Beirut have been filled with demonstrators who are entirely fed up with having their lives and opinions taken for granted by parasitic oligarchies.
Stirring stuff.

The accelerating march of freedom and democracy suggests the neo-cons were right. Interviewed by Chrenkoff, Victor Davis Hanson correctly credits President Bush:
Look at the unrest in Lebanon, the voting in the West Bank, fear in Libya, pressure to reform from the Gulf to Egypt—all impossible without the removal and humiliation of Saddam Hussein, who, had he remained in power, would be nursing Arab pride by blaming us while he recycled petro-dollars, hand in glove with corrupt UN officials and Euros, for more weapons and his own debauchery.
Hanson's conclusions seem inescapable--but don't bet Senator Kennedy ever will cross that bridge.

(via MaxedOutMama)

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