Well, who's the simpleton now? Those who dreamed of spreading democracy to the Arabs or those who denied that it could ever happen? Of course, the outcome is far from clear, and even in Iraq democracy is hardly well established. Yet some pretty extraordinary things have been happening in the last few weeks. . .Still, don't expect the Dems to concede. They'll probably betray democracy two more times before the cock crows on November 4, 2008.
It would be the height of hubris to claim that all these developments are due to U.S. action alone. Pressure has been building up in the Middle East pressure cooker for decades; the long-suffering people of the region do not need any outside prompting to list a long litany of grievances against their dysfunctional governments. But it was the invasion of Iraq and the subsequent democratic elections there that blew the lid off the region.
"It's strange for me to say it," says Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, who would never be mistaken for a Bush backer, "but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq."
"Now with the new Bush administration," confirms former Lebanese President Amin Gemayel, "we feel a stronger determination in liberating Lebanon and in promoting democracy in the Middle East."
Maybe, just maybe, those neocons weren't so nutty after all.
A leftist named Tom sees the writing on the wall:
What if President Bush ends up being remembered by history as a great President?Uh, Tom, as Hatless in Hattiesburg says, "That ship has already sailed."
What if the Neocons were right about the Middle East, that it was at a tipping point just waiting for someone to give it a shove toward the modern world? What if Iraq really was the key? What if, in the next couple of years, Iraq achieves some kind of stable political self-determination, Lebanon regains its independence from Syria, and everyday Palestinians decide they want peace more than they want to cling to self-destructive points of pride? What if, as part of the bargain, the encouraged youth of Iran rise up and overthrow the mullahs, Egypt holds some real elections, and Syrian dictator Bashar Assad departs under cover of darkness for a long, wealthy, embittered exile?
What if, at the end of his term, President Bush has by force of his own will transformed the Arab World into something modern, a region ready to make a run at joining the 21st Century?
Gerard Baker in the Times (London):
All right, all right. But apart from liberating 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan, undermining dictatorships throughout the Arab world, spreading freedom and self-determination in the broader Middle East and moving the Palestinians and the Israelis towards a real chance of ending their centuries-long war, what have the Americans ever done for us?And the Guardian (UK) has a round-up of increasing respect for the Bush Doctrine.