Just see Senator Kennedy's rather ill-timed speech from last month which echoed much of this folderol if you need a refresher.
Well the Arab street is speaking and the shout is for FREEDOM! Previously, I quoted Walid Jumblat, the Lebanese Druze leader who credited President Bush's Iraq policy for the turnaround. That sentiment is now spreading in ever more visible form throughout the region faster than anyone would have thought possible.
I refer frequently to President Bush's Iraq policy as a "keystone strategy" to unlock the democratic and peaceful potential of the entire region and thus achieve for us a great victory in our wider war on terror. Others call this a domino effect and remind us of the wave of freedom President Reagan unleashed through his strong stand against Soviet tyranny.
It's likely to be a bumpy road ahead, with disappointments and tragedy the handmaiden of success. But if you recall, there were people concerned that the fall of the Berlin Wall would lead to disaster. Wrong then! Wrong now!
Here's what others have been saying the past few days:
A Mideast Makeover? (washingtonpost.com): "As thousands of Arabs demonstrated for freedom and democracy in Beirut and Cairo last week, and the desperate dictators of Syria and Egypt squirmed under domestic and international pressure, it was hard not to wonder whether the regional transformation that the Bush administration hoped would be touched off by its invasion of Iraq is, however tentatively, beginning to happen.
Those who have declared the war an irretrievable catastrophe have been gloating for at least a year over the supposed puncturing of what they portray as President Bush's fanciful illusion that democracy would take root in Iraq and spread through the region. They may yet be proved right. But how, then, to explain the tens of thousands who marched through Beirut last Monday carrying red and white roses and scarves -- the colors of what they call the 'independence intifada' -- and calling for 'freedom, independence and sovereignty' from neighboring Syria? Or the hundreds of Egyptian protesters who gathered that same day at Cairo University, in defiance of thousands of police officers, to chant the slogan of 'kifaya,' or 'enough,' at 76-year-old President Hosni Mubarak? "
Minds Are Changing By Michael Barone
Nearly two years ago, I wrote that the liberation of Iraq was changing minds in the Middle East. Before March 2003, the authoritarian regimes and media elites of the Middle East focused the discontents of their people on the United States and Israel. I thought the downfall of Saddam Hussein's regime was directing their minds to a different question -- how to build a decent government and a decent society.
I think I overestimated how much progress was being made at the time. But the spectacle of 8 million Iraqis braving terrorists to vote on Jan. 30 seems to have moved things up to be changing minds now at breakneck speed.
Evidence abounds. Consider what is happening in Lebanon, long under Syrian control, in response to the assassination, almost certainly by Syrian agents, of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Protesters have taken to the streets day after day, demanding Syrian withdrawal.
The Tipping Points By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
he other night on ABC's "Nightline," the host, Ted Koppel, posed an intriguing question to Malcolm Gladwell, the social scientist who wrote the path-breaking book "The Tipping Point," which is about how changes in behavior or perception can reach a critical mass and then suddenly create a whole new reality. Mr. Koppel asked: Can you know you are in the middle of a tipping point, or is it only something you can see in retrospect?
Mr. Gladwell responded that "the most important thing in trying to analyze whether something is at the verge of a tipping point, is whether it - an event - causes people to reframe an issue.
Mr. Koppel was raising the question because he wanted to explore whether the Iraqi elections marked a tipping point in history. I was on the same show, and in mulling over this question more I think that what's so interesting about the Middle East today is that we're actually witnessing three tipping points at once.
Thanks to eight million Iraqis defying "you vote, you die" terrorist threats, Iraq has been reframed from a story about Iraqi "insurgents" trying to liberate their country from American occupiers and their Iraqi "stooges" to a story of the overwhelming Iraqi majority trying to build a democracy, with U.S. help, against the wishes of Iraqi Baathist-fascists and jihadists.
In Lebanon, the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which Syria is widely suspected of having had a hand in, has reframed that drama. A month ago, Lebanon was the story of a tiny Christian minority trying to resist the Syrian occupation, which had the tacit support of the pro-Syrian Lebanese government and a cadre of Lebanese politicians who had sold their souls to Damascus. After the Hariri murder, Lebanese just snapped. Lebanon became the story of a broad majority of Lebanese Christians, Muslims and Druse no longer willing to remain silent, but instead telling the Syrians, and their Lebanese puppet president, to "go home." Lebanon went from a country where few dared whisper "When will Syria leave?" to a country where nearly everyone was shouting it, and Syria was having to answer.
The Israel-Palestine drama has gone from how Ariel Sharon will use any means possible to sustain Israel's hold on Gaza, which he once said was indispensable for the security of the Jewish state, to being about how Mr. Sharon will use any means possible to evacuate Gaza - with its huge Palestinian population - which he now says is necessary for saving Israel as a Jewish state. The issue for the Palestinians is no longer about how they resist the Israeli occupation in Gaza, but whether they build a decent mini-state there - a Dubai on the Mediterranean. Because if they do, it will fundamentally reshape the Israeli debate about whether the Palestinians can be handed most of the West Bank.
Jack Kelly: All but won
The media can't see that Iraq is close to secure
It will be some months before the news media recognize it, and a few months more before they acknowledge it, but the war in Iraq is all but won. The situation is roughly analogous to the battle of Iwo Jima, which took place 60 years ago this month. It took 35 days before the island was declared secure, but the outcome was clear after day five, with the capture of Mt. Suribachi.
Proof of this was provided by Sen. Hillary Clinton. Iraq is functioning quite well, she said in a press conference in Baghdad Feb. 19. The recent rash of suicide attacks is a sign the insurgency is failing, she said.
"When politicians like [Clinton] start flocking to Iraq to bask in the light of its success, then you know that the corner has been turned," a reader of his blog wrote to Bay.
More substantive signs abound. The performance of Iraqi security forces is improving, as are their numbers. Nearly 10,000 men showed up at a southern Iraqi military base Feb. 14 to volunteer for 5,000 openings. Only 6,000 had been expected.
Sunni Arab politicians have admitted they made a big boo-boo in boycotting the Jan. 30 election, and are pleading to be included in the political process. Some ex-Baathists are seeking terms for laying down their arms.
Those who get their news from the "mainstream" media are surprised by developments in Iraq, as they were surprised by our swift victory in Afghanistan, the sudden fall of Saddam Hussein, the success of the Afghan election and the success of the Iraqi election.
Journalists demand accountability from political leaders for "quagmires" which exist chiefly in the imagination of journalists. But when will journalists be held to account for getting every major development in the war on terror wrong?