Thursday, March 03, 2005

Can You See the Little Priggies?

Writing in Slate, Fred Kaplan asks the question that's been freezing the marrow of liberals ever since the end of January: "Was George Bush Right About Freedom and Democracy?". Of course, Kaplan answers himself in the subhead, "Maybe. Maybe Not."

While Kaplan notes the recent earthshaking events in the middle east:
In just the past two months, free elections were held in Palestine and Iraq; a rigged election was overturned and an honest one re-held in Ukraine; the Egyptian president pledged to hold competitive elections soon, too; and a popular uprising against Syria's occupation of Lebanon forced Beirut's puppet government to resign—all this, amid President Bush's proclamation that the main aim of American foreign policy is to advance the cause of global freedom.
He then says, "'s absurd to think that Bush set the upheavals of '05 in motion..." Really? "Absurd"? Then how does Kaplan explain the words of Druze Muslim leader Walid Jumblatt?
"It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq," explains Jumblatt. "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world." Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. "The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."
Kaplan doesn't explain them, he simply ignores them.

And certainly, if Kaplan can ignore Jumblatt's widely reported comments, he can disregard this more obscure January 19th report from Arabic News:
4 opposition Syria parties and associations announced in a statement following a two- day meetings in Damascus the formation of a national coordination committee in defense of basic rights and human rights in Syria.

The great support given to the Kurds in Iraq from the USA stimulated the feelings of Kurds in Syria in directing them to play a greater political role under the current American pressures against Syria.
Even the Guardian, British high temple of liberal thought, offers an opposing view to Kaplan's:
We saw it much more recently in Afghanistan, where the people confounded the western critics and scoffers and, despite Taliban threats, voted overwhelmingly to put the curse of the Taliban's Islamic extremism behind them.
Kaplan then goes on to write:
Could a new type of Palestinian leadership have emerged had Saddam Hussein still been ruling Iraq and sending money to terrorists and their families? Probably not.
But this ray of sunshine is blotted out when Kaplan descends into re-arguing the rationale for war with Iraq, and dire caveats about the future for the region. It's almost pathetic to watch a lib floundering like this. Almost, but it's still too funny for real pathos. Do you really feel sorry for Curly, when Moe bonks him on the head?

We're seeing in microcosm here what's happening in the middle east. As the tyrannies of the Arab world begin to crumble and succumb to the popular desire for justice and democracy, so the old guard radical libs of America are seeing their power and legitimacy undermined by recent events. The smarter ones are keeping their mouths shut about it; maybe secretly hoping for some new disaster to overtake the region and derail the democracy train.

3-3-05: Linked to an Outside the Beltway traffic jam.