Monday, February 28, 2005

More Change in the Middle East

Sharing a headline with the worst insurgent bombing to date in Iraq (125 dead at least) is the incredible news that the Lebanese goverment has bowed to nonviolent protestors and dissolved itself. The basically-evil Syrian occupation draws to an end, peaceful "people power" breaks out in the Arab world, dogs and cats living together, etc.

It might be premature, but I'll be the first to admit I underestimated the Bush Administration's ability to enact this type of change in the Middle East. To be sure, things are far from toppling domino-style in one of the most despotic regions of the world. But the signs have never been better: Mubarek calling for election reform, Gaza withdrawal and settlements cut out of Israel's wall, hell even the Saudis let a few men vote for a few seats last month. How much of this can be attributed to our invasion of Iraq? A lot, I think. Sure, the Palestinian breakthroughs can mostly be attributed to Arafat's death, but even there the alternative might have been nudged toward the reconsiliatory by the Marines next door. At any rate I don't think we can credit the breakthroughs in Egypt and Lebanon to anything else. I'm curious what the pundits to have say tomorrow.

It seems to me that only a true partisan hack would begrudge the positive impact our military presence seems to be having in the Middle East. Sure, the war in Iraq is more bloody and costly than advertised; it was poorly planned and we might well fail there yet. But I for one would love to be proven wrong in the larger picture, and see the region change for the better in the next decades.


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