Monday, February 28, 2005

Progress in the Middle East

There's a growing number of examples of movement toward greater freedom and democracy in the Middle East. The latest are in Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt, as discussed today by Jackson Diehl in his Washington Post column.

As thousands of Arabs demonstrated for freedom and democracy in Beirut and Cairo last week, and the desperate dictators of Syria and Egypt squirmed under domestic and international pressure, it was hard not to wonder whether the regional transformation that the Bush administration hoped would be touched off by its invasion of Iraq is, however tentatively, beginning to happen. ...

If a Middle East transformation begins to gather momentum, it probably will be more messy, and the results more ambiguous, than ... European revolutions. It also won't be entirely Bush's creation: The tinder for ignition has been gathering around the stagnant and corrupt autocracies of the Middle East for years. Still, less than two years after Saddam Hussein was deposed, the fact is that Arabs are marching for freedom and shouting slogans against tyrants in the streets of Beirut and Cairo -- and regimes that have endured for decades are visibly tottering. Those who claimed that U.S. intervention could never produce such events have reason to reconsider.

It will be interesting to watch the anxiety among dedicated Bush haters as they try to digest these growing signs of progress in the region and success in American policy. Diehl credits the Bush Administration somewhat half-heartedly, but at least he's honest enough to give some measure of credit. Will leftist Bush haters be equally honest, or will they do their best to deny the facts while hoping inconvenient signs of progress just go away? Let's hope the politics of hate don't blind them to the tremendous progress we're helping to achieve in the Middle East.

10 Comments:

Blogger Kevin said...

Ditto the party line or be labeled a Bush hater.

Interesting choices.

12:18 PM, February 28, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Kevin, being a "Bush hater" is something someone earns by his/her own statements and actions. There are a whole lot of people who oppose Bush's policies and politics who don't go around talking about how much they hate him. The difference between them is hardly one of "dittoing the party line." Rather, it's one of maturity.

1:22 PM, February 28, 2005  
Blogger Kevin said...

Tom,

The last paragraph of your post equates honesty with crediting the Bush administration. And now you've talked about maturity.

So, if I understand you correctly... one can disagree with Bush's foreign policy without exhibiting hatred and that would make them what... maturely dishonest? Conversely, one can exhibit hatred for Bush, but if they agree with his foreign policy in the Middle East that would make them... immature but honest?

Okay... That's clearly not the choice I initially thought you were laying out. My mistake. But, it begs the question of how you've juxtapositioned "maturity" and "honesty".

1:46 PM, February 28, 2005  
Blogger Gindy said...

Adding to that Libiya has given up it's nuclear program and Saudi Arabia is talking about giving women the right to vote. I don't believe it, but at least they are talking about it for the first time. Whether any of these efforts will be successful I don't know. But, it is the attempt at democracy that should have everyones attention.

1:59 PM, February 28, 2005  
Blogger Kevin said...

Tom,

I read this OP-Ed piece this morning also and I had similar thoughts. I wanted to comment on Kevin's comments though.

I think that many of the reasons that people disagree with the President have nothing to do with policy. They are immature. But in this instance Tom was talking about the maturity to at least admit when your wrong. Maybe not totally wrong, but at least somewhat wrong.

I don't think that the left will and that is the exact criticisms that they leveled against the President. Personally I don't think that the policy was wrong, and even though I'm going to Iraq for a second time, I will go again and again. As many times as it takes to change the situation in the Middle East.

If you want a good clear picture of the policy, I would suggest reading George Friedman's "America's Secret War." It will open your eyes.

Kev

3:43 PM, February 28, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are on the road to freedom and democracy, there are bumps and turns everywhere. Those who follow will face the same terrain, but should we not show them the way because it was not easy to get where we are, or are we so arrogant to think that they would not want what we have unless they get there with ease. Fortunately I believe that there is enough brave and logical men to see that we cannot truly be free, until we have given the opportunity to all those who crave it....

11:35 PM, February 28, 2005  
Anonymous Jim Leffew said...

We are on the road to freedom and democracy, there are bumps and turns everywhere. Those who follow will face the same terrain, but should we not show them the way because it was not easy to get where we are, or are we so arrogant to think that they would not want what we have unless they get there with ease. Fortunately I believe that there is enough brave and logical men to see that we cannot truly be free, until we have given the opportunity to all those who crave it....

11:40 PM, February 28, 2005  
Blogger carla said...

We are on the road to freedom and democracy, there are bumps and turns everywhere. Those who follow will face the same terrain, but should we not show them the way because it was not easy to get where we are, or are we so arrogant to think that they would not want what we have unless they get there with ease. Fortunately I believe that there is enough brave and logical men to see that we cannot truly be free, until we have given the opportunity to all those who crave it....Are we so arrogant to believe that our notion of "freedom" is the same as the notion of "freedom" for those a world a way from us?

10:23 AM, March 01, 2005  
Blogger Esther said...

carla, but wouldn't it be great if they had the freedom to choose?

12:29 PM, March 01, 2005  
Blogger Francesca said...

I think this issue of Lebanon's turn toward Democracy is extremely complex and something that can't easily be dissected as it's happening. Sure, I begrudgingly give Bush some credit for the change, but there are plenty of other factors to consider. Many Lebanese are just plain pissed off that their former PM got blown up. I think Ukraine showed them that taking to the streets can actually accomplish something. But this is a struggle that has been going on quietly for more than a decade and it's not even close to being done. So I'll reserve my judgement on it until we see what really comes out of this week's events in a few months or a year or so.
I still don't think anyone can yet claim that Iraq is a democracy yet. People just putting slips of paper in a box is not democracy. We have to wait and see how the Iraqis are able to uphold human and civil rights--that's the main way I measure a democracy.

10:41 AM, March 03, 2005  

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