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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
The American Enterprise: In the Middle East, a New World
The American Enterprise: In the Middle East, a New World

Just an excellent piece on the emerging realities in the Middle East, the principles that brought them about, and the future. Some excerpts:

Everyday Americans also proved sturdier than our chattering class. They stayed with the fight long enough for some hard facts to emerge. Now some very good news is obvious to all who have eyes: We are not facing a popular revolt in Iraq. Average Arabs are not on the side of terrorists and Islamic radicals. America's venture to defang the Middle East is neither the cynical and selfish oil grab that the lunatic Left have claimed, nor a dreamy and doomed Don Quixote crusade as some conservative grumps insisted.

So here, at last, come the soldiers of the "me too" brigade. Even the French have joined in. They're sending one man (yes, one) to help train Iraqi security forces. And he's welcome. Victory is magnanimous.


Thankfully, the election finally exposed the falsity of claims that Iraqis were unwilling participants in America's liberation of their country. It can no longer be denied that the vast majority of Iraqis oppose the terrorists. Our Eeyores have now shifted their worries, however, to the idea that Iraqis are likely to repeat the Iranian nightmare and veer into mullah-ridden theocracy.

Not likely. It isn't just that Iraqis have the benefit of knowing what a mess the clerics produced in Iran. It isn't just that Iraq's Kurds would put the brakes on any such attempt. It isn't just the repeated assurances by leading Shiites that they have no intention of imposing Islamic law on the country, and want to encompass all of Iraq's many peoples in the government they will lead. What is perhaps most soothing is seeing who exactly the Shiites are pushing forth as their representatives. The parliamentarians backed by Ayatollah Sistani include many Western-educated professionals, scientists,representatives of all ethnic and religious groups, and diverse points of view, even former communists and ex-monarchists. Most strikingly, one out of every three nominees is female--an utterly un-Khomeini-ish statement.


Of course the elections in Afghanistan and Iraq, and all that has followed in Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere, didn't just happen. They required enormous acts of American will. Anyone who thinks these breakthroughs would have occurred under a Commander in Chief less bold and stubborn than George W. Bush is mad.

The fresh hope now pulsing through the Middle East is not the result of diplomacy, or U.N. programs, or foreign aid, or expanded trade, or carrots offered by Europeans, or multilateral negotiations, or visits from Sean Penn. It is the fruit of fierce U.S. military strength, real toughness on the part of the middle American public, and a tremendous hardness in the person of our President and his staff.

As I write this, amidst a beautiful March blizzard, I am gulping tea from a mug emblazoned with the shield of one of the U.S. military units I spent time with in Iraq, the 1st Battalion of the 5th Marines. Their motto reads: "MAKE PEACE, OR DIE." Since 9/11, that is exactly the offer we've extended to thousands of terrorists and a handful of governments. And it has worked. Sometimes America's message needs to be just that simple.


Today's snobs are just the latest in a long train of doubters of ordinary citizens. Almost 150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln battled such men while campaigning for the Senate. In a speech that has been wonderfully preserved in handwritten form, with Lincoln's spoken emphases underlined by him in ink (and replicated in the extract below) the first Republican President said this:

"Most governments have been based, practically, on the denial of the equal rights of men...Ours began by affirming those rights.
They said some men are too ignorant and vicious to share in government. Possibly so, said we; and by your system, you would always keep them ignorant and vicious.
We proposed to give all a chance; and we expected the weak to grow stronger, the ignorant wiser, and all better, and happier together."

That's a pointed endorsement of the power of democratic self-responsibility to elevate both individuals and societies. And it's as relevant to today's Middle East as it was to slaveholding America.
What a great article! I kept finding wonderful sentences and thinking "I'll quote that… No, I'll quote that." There's too much good stuff to quote.

The point he made that I like most is that all the good things that are happening, the parliaments being elected, the non-state-run newspapers starting up, the women getting an education for the first time, all of that was purchased by the American GI.

I wonder if a reasonable, non-whacked out liberal could bring her/himself to look at the facts and say "I was against the war, and I still have reasons for being against it, but there's no question that the world is better because of what the US did"? I'm thinking about going to a liberal blog and asking just that.
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