Tuesday, March 01, 2005
1) Iraqis stood up, en masse (with the Sunni angle not as grim as some have portrayed) against fascistic terror tactics and turned out in numbers that surpassed all but the most optimistic prognostications--in what proved a moving and historic event that loudly showcased a key yearning of the modern era--namely, to have one's voice heard through democratic governance structures;
2) The Arab world watched this historic election with real fascination and intrigue, and it is probably fair to say it proved a significant strategic blow to the prestige of the insurgents (though they remain resilient and capable of mass carnage as today's massive suicide bomb showed);
3) Bush's increasingly direct admonishments to Egypt to further democratize communicated both in his SOTU and by his representatives from diplomats on the ground in Cairo to Secretary Rice is evidently bearing some fruit (yes, with details to be worked out about how real Mubarak's moves will be--but most analysts appear to see rather important reformist moves in the works);
4) Syria, where I think it's fair to say our relationship is at somewhat of a crossroads, has basically agreed to withdraw all its troops in Lebanon to the Bekaa Valley and has started turning over big Iraqi Baathist fish to the Americans (it's gettin' crunchtime for Bashar, and he is starting to belatedly really get that, it would seem);
5) The Cedar Revolution is filling the streets of Beirut showing the Arab world that, indeed, Bush was right to say Syria was 'out of step' in a region that is, yes, becoming somewhat intoxicated with these first blushes of real democratization from Baghdad to Beirut;
6) Constructive initiatives are underway vis-a-vis the poisonous Israeli-Palestinian dispute, with Bush having pledged over USD 300MM to the PA, and Sharon and Mazen still doing business post the Islamic Jihad bombing;
7) Saudi Arabia, as Daniel Drezner has noted, is making some reformist strides (also reacting to Bush's prodding in his SOTU and a robust dialogue via our Embassy in Riyadh and elsewhere);
8) Condi Rice is to spearhead a revitalized public diplomacy effort as she indicated in her Senate confirmation hearings--doubtless helping better explain our intentions in the region (and no, they're not about perma bases in Mesopotamia, helping Zionists take over the Tigris and Euphrates, or making oil grabs in Iraq and Iran) and such a PD initiative will doubtless, in part, thematically link inter-connected developments like the Iraq elections, the civic unrest in Beirut, the reformist resentiment in Cairo;
9) Afghanistan continues to make forward progress towards democratization and greater stability as do other countries in the broader region like Bahrain; and
10) Bush looks to have wisely deemphasized a short-term military option on Iran and is looking to swing Pollack-Takeyh on Iran policy in greater coordination with the Europeans.
And he goes on to quote Andrew Sullivan, an early supporter of the war in Iraq but opposed to President Bush's re-election (www.andrewsullivan.com):
"...You are beginning to see the start of a real and fundamental change. Almost all of this was accomplished by the liberation of Iraq. Nothing else would have persuaded the thugs and mafia bosses who run so many Arab nations that the West is serious about democracy. The hard thing for liberals - and I don't mean that term in a pejorative sense - will be to acknowledge this president's critical role in moving this region toward democracy. In my view, 9/11 demanded nothing less. We are tackling the problem at the surface - by wiping out the institutional core of al Qaeda - and in the depths - by tackling the autocracy that makes Islamo-fascism more attractive to the younger generation. This is what we owed to the victims of 9/11. And we are keeping that trust."
Keeping the trust. Honoring those who have given the greatest sacrifice by remaining true to our ideals. George W. Bush responded to 9/11/01 with determination and a conviction that there was a deeper and more urgent problem, and that America's promise of democracy offered the last, best hope for western civilization against the tyranny of terror. Those are our ideals, as we have learned them over 200 years of struggling to better this experiment of the people, by the people, and for the people.
We must continue to keep that trust. Not just because we believe this to be best, but because people who yet live in fear still yearn to be free.
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