Q&A Friday #12: Freedom’s Progress In The Middle-East

Question: “The democratic revolution is unfolding all over the world. Ukraine, Afghanistan, Iraq, now Lebanon. What regime do you think is next to fold, and how long do you think it will take for the entire Middle East to face transparent democratic elections?

I vote Syria, before the year ends. And that’s being conservative! If I play liberal, and you gave me good odds for betting, I’d put it down at just after Lebanon’s elections in May.” — UnknownWanderer

Answer: Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched =D Freedom has some momentum in the Middle-East for the first time…well, ever. But, do keep in mind what Ralph Peters wrote in his latest column is right in target…

“FOR three years, this column has shot down the pessimists who warned we were bound to fail in the Middle East. Now those of us who see our confidence vindicated must beware a premature euphoria.
There’s plenty of work ahead.

Our successes have been remarkable. In the past six weeks, we’ve seen more positive movement in the region than we saw in the preceding six decades. The political landscape of the old Islamic heartlands has changed breathtakingly since our first special-operations team went to work in the wake of 9/11.

Afghanistan’s finding its footing as a democracy. Iraq welcomed its first free elections with an enthusiasm and valor that should shame apathetic Western voters. Inspired, the people of Lebanon took to the streets to demand freedom from Syrian occupation. Palestinians voted, too — and their new government is resisting the terrorists who want to frustrate peace efforts.

From Iran through Saudi Arabia to Egypt, the first breezes of change are beginning to blow.

But they’re not gale-force winds just yet. We would be almost as foolish as the eternal naysayers were we to imagine that our mission is nearing completion.

Excessive euphoria would only play into the hands of those who wanted freedom’s campaign to fail all along. If our rhetoric becomes too exuberant, even positive events on the ground could be dismissed as falling short of our promises.

Lebanon isn’t free yet, nor is Egypt, and quite frankly Syria and Saudi Arabia don’t seem to be all that close to becoming liberated. Sure, things could start moving quickly like they did in the old Soviet bloc, but it’s too soon to tell yet.

So we should be encouraged by what’s happening, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I’d say we should get behind the Bush administration’s efforts to keep the cauldron boiling in the region, support freedom where we can, when we can, with what we have, and keep our eyes on the ball. We’re in the “red zone” in countries like Egypt and Lebanon, but the ball hasn’t been plunged over the goal line yet…

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