One of the things which has most impressed me about the president’s leadership has been his steadfastness. Critics said we could never overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan. They insisted that the U.S. would not be able to transfer sovereignty to the Iraqis by the June 30, 2004 deadline. We did it a few days ahead of schedule. Elite opinion was nearly unanimous that continuing violence would prevent the Iraqi elections from taking place on schedule on January 30 — and that if they did, few Iraqis would bother to vote.
Despite this criticism, the president held firm to his plans. Not only did the elections take place, but it looks like they’re becoming a watershed in the history of the Middle East. A pro-Syrian regime in Lebanon has fallen. Elections in Egypt are to be open to opposition parties. The mullahs in Iran are running scared. The president has confounded his critics who, once again, have “misunderestimated” the plainspoken Texan.
In an excellent piece in “THE WEEKLY STANDARD,” Bill Kristol notes that not only do the elections vindicate the Bush doctrine “as the right response to 9/11,” but they bring with them “the prospect of further and accelerating progress.” Like my blog-league, the good Dr. Kristol quotes Lebanese Druze patriarch Walid Jumblatt who links the democratic revolt in the Arab world to the American invasion of Iraq.
Dr. Kristol also references an article in the left-of-center German newsmagazine, “DER SPIEGEL,” where reporter Claus Christian Malzahn asks, “Could George W. Bush Be Right?” In responding to the question, Malzahn references a much maligned mission by another American president to Germany, the visit by to Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate in 1987 when he implored the then-leader of the then-Soviet Union Michael Gorbachev to “Open this gate!” and “tear down this wall!”
It was difficult not to cringe during Reagan’s speech in 1987. He didn’t leave a single Berlin clich? out of his script. At the end of it, most experts agreed that his demand for the removal of the Wall was inopportune, utopian and crazy.
Yet three years later, East Germany had disappeared from the map. Gorbachev had a lot to do with it, but it was the East Germans who played the larger role. When analysts are confronted by real people, amazing things can happen. And maybe history can repeat itself. Maybe the people of Syria, Iran or Jordan will get the idea in their heads to free themselves from their oppressive regimes just as the East Germans did. When the voter turnout in Iraq recently exceeded that of many Western nations, the chorus of critique from Iraq alarmists was, at least for a couple of days, quieted. Just as quiet as the chorus of Germany experts on the night of Nov. 9, 1989 when the Wall fell.
And it’s not just liberals in Europe who recognize President Bush’s accomplishments. Dr. Kristol notes that even some American liberals are beginning to understand that the success of the Iraqi elections has forced them to reconsider their opposition to his policies. Writing for “NEW YORK” magazine, Kurt Andersen notes:
Each of us has a Hobbesian choice concerning Iraq; either we hope for the vindication of Bushs risky, very possibly reckless policy, or we are in a de facto alliance with the killers of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians. We can be angry with Bush for bringing us to this nasty ethical crossroads, but here we are nonetheless. . . . .
And now the terrible business of judging the correct price requires as much empirical rigor and moral clarity as we can muster, the sort of careful, reality-based judgments that liberals pride themselves on being able to make better than loony Evangelicals and cunning neocon dreamers. It wont do simply to default to our easy predispositionsagainst Bush, even against war. If partisanship makes us abandon intellectual honesty, if we oppose what our opponents say or do simply because they are the ones saying or doing it, we become mere political short-sellers, hoping for bad news because its good for our ideological investment.
And Roger Simon notes that even a “New York Times editorial endorses George W. Bush’s pro-active democracy policy.” Roger links to a thoughtful piece by scholar Michael Ledeen who points out (emphasis added by your humble blogger):
Many of the brave people in the suddenly democratic Arab streets are inspired by America, and by George W. Bush himself. . . . We must be unyielding in our demand that the peoples of the Middle East design their own polities, and elect their own leaders. . . . We should not be deterred by the cynics who warn that freedom will make things worse, because the ignorant masses will opt for the fantasmagorical caliphate of the increasingly irrelevant Osama bin Laden.
Given President Bush’s record in holding firm on transferring sovereignty to the Iraqis in June and holding elections seven months later, we can have confidence that he will continue to be unyielding in pushing the themes of his inaugural address. He has not been deterred by cynics in the past. And we can have confidence that he will not be so deterred in the future. Our president will continue to be steadfast in his support of the advance of democracy in the Middle East — and around the world.
On the wall in front of my desk, I have a variety of quotations from sources as diverse as , Carl Jung, Lerner & Loewe, Elie Wiesel, George Eliot and the Torah. I also have a quote from Mozart‘s opera, “THE MAGIC FLUTE,” where the three wise boys advice Prince Tamino of the qualities he will need on his journey: “Be steadfast, patient and silent.” It seems that, whether or not he is familiar with this great opera, our president has indeed heeded this advice.
Couple this attitude with a sensible foreign policy and we see democracy on the march around the world.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com