Monday, May 23, 2005

W = Tsunami

Fouad Ajami has just returned from four weeks in Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan and Iraq and has excellent news to report.

I was to encounter people from practically all Arab lands, to listen in on a great debate about the possibility of freedom and liberty. I met Lebanese giddy with the Cedar Revolution that liberated their country from the Syrian prison that had seemed an unalterable curse. They were under no illusions about the change that had come their way. They knew that this new history was the gift of an American president who had put the Syrian rulers on notice. The speed with which Syria quit Lebanon was astonishing, a race to the border to forestall an American strike that the regime could not discount. I met Syrians in the know who admitted that the fear of American power, and the example of American forces flushing Saddam Hussein out of his spider hole, now drive Syrian policy. They hang on George Bush's words in Damascus, I was told: the rulers wondering if Iraq was a crystal ball in which they could glimpse their future.

The Bush Doctrine continues to transform the political environment of the Middle East. You don't have to be a fan of cynical Republican politics or even want Social Security reform to recognize the success of Bush's foreign policy.
We met with parliamentarians and journalists, provincial legislators, clerics and secularists alike, Sunni and Shia Arabs and Kurds. One memory I shall treasure: a visit to the National Assembly. From afar, there are reports of the "acrimony" of Iraq, of the long interlude between Iraq's elections, on Jan. 30, and the formation of a cabinet. But that day, in the assembly, these concerns seemed like a quibble with history. There was the spectacle of democracy: men and women doing democracy's work, women cloaked in Islamic attire right alongside more emancipated women, the technocrats and the tribal sheikhs, and the infectious awareness among these people of the precious tradition bequeathed them after a terrible history.

Truly amazing. It may sound trite when Bush speaks about the "power of freedom" and "doing the hard work of democracy," but it's true. The insurgency has not been quelled in Iraq, but most rational supporters of the war never believed it would be a cakewalk. A report like this from someone like Ajami is heartening.
-- Eric


Blogger poster said...

what's uniquely cynical about republican politics as opposed to democrat politics?

11:32 AM  
Blogger poster said...

I personally think the Bush administration is far, far more cynical in their politics than, for example, Clinton. The Dems tend to sell their domestic ideas for what they are, whereas the Republicans misrepresent them.

1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you really mean "cynical"?

It seems to me that you have a cynical view of Republican politics--"the Republicans misrepresent [their ideas]." The Republicans may lie about their policies, but that does not make them cynical. Perhaps the Republicans assume the worst in the people whom they represent and therefore they have cynical policies, but is that what you meant?

It seems to me that [in the comment] you are teetering precariously on the edge of "partisan invective" or "political vitriol," to qoute a well respected blogger.

4:57 PM  

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