Most opponents of the war in Iraq dismiss the “reform the Middle East” argument for it as after-the-fact dissembling. Personally, I don’t care what “The Real Reason” was, I care about the results, which are unambiguously good, especially when one takes the entire region into account. Jackson Diehl:
- The most underreported and encouraging story in the Middle East in the past year has been the emergence in public of homegrown civic movements demanding political change. Two years ago they were nonexistent or in jail. Now they are out in the open even in the most politically backward places in the region: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria. They are made up not only of intellectuals but of businessmen, women, students, teachers and journalists. Unlike their governments — and the old school of U.S. and European Arabists — they don’t believe that change should be gradual, and they reject the dictators’ claim that democracy would only empower Islamic extremists. It is the delay of change, they say, that is increasingly dangerous.
These people weren’t created by George W. Bush. They are the homegrown answer to a decadent political order, and they ride a powerful historical current. But they will tell you frankly: The new U.S. democratization policy, far from being an unwanted imposition, has given them a voice, an audience and at least a partial shield against repression — three things they didn’t have one year ago.
….Kamal and another prominent Egyptian political scientist, Osama Ghazali Harb, were in Washington last week; both attended a groundbreaking meeting of civic organizations at Egypt’s Alexandria Library earlier this month. The conference, unthinkable a year ago, produced a clarion call for democratic change — one that was all but ignored by Western media.
So here is what the Alexandria statement said: “Reform is necessary and urgently needed.” That means: an “elected legislative body, an independent judiciary, and a government that is subject to popular and constitutional oversight, in addition to political parties with their different ideologies.” Also, “the freedom of all forms of expression, especially the freedom of the press . . . and the support of human rights in accordance with international charters, especially the rights of women, children and minorities.”
….The White House, at least, took note of the Alexandria declaration. There is talk of promoting its formal endorsement by the Western democracies at the upcoming G-8 summit. Arab officials and the diplomatic old school whisper that such support would only taint and undermine the reformers. Better, they say, to respond to the Arab League.
Wrong again, says Harb. “If your governments refer to the Alexandria declaration it will strengthen and promote this trend for reform,” he said. The very idea of it made him grin. “I like this,” he added. “This would be very good.” [Washington Post]
This IS very good and is ample justification for regime change in Iraq, an Iraq that will be democratic, have rule of law, civil institutions, and protection of individual rights. And screw the Arab League.
More on the status of the war on terror and Iraq in particular. Are Mark Steyn and the Washington Times biased? Sure they are, but address the facts on the ground:
- Here are 10 predictions of doom from the conventional wisdom of a year ago, followed by some of my comments at the time, and a note on how things have turned out:
(1) “Iraq’s slide into violent anarchy” (The Guardian, April 11, 2003). Say what you like about Saddam Hussein, but he ran a tight ship, and you didn’t have to nail down the furniture.
I predicted: “A year from now, Basra will have a lower crime rate than most London boroughs.”
One year on: Almost. According to the BBC, Basra is booming and its citizens are flush with new spending power. Despite Saddam’s decision to empty the prisons of petty criminals on the eve of the war, in February British authorities reported crime in the city has fallen by 70 percent.
(2) “The head of the World Food Program has warned that Iraq could spiral into a massive humanitarian disaster.” (The Australian, April 11, 2003)
One year on: No humanitarian disaster. Indeed, no “humanitarians.” The NGOs fled Iraq in August and nobody noticed, confirming what some of us have suspected since Afghanistan: The permanent floating crap game of the humanitarian lobby has a vastly inflated sense of its own importance and is prone to massive distortion in the cause of self-promotion.
(3) “Iraqis now waiting for Americans to leave.” (Associated Press, April 10, 2003)
I predicted: “There will be terrible acts of suicide-bomber depravity in the months ahead, but no widespread resentment at or resistance of the Western military presence.”
One year on: The suicide-bomber depravity gets more depraved even as it gets more impotent. But there remains no widespread popular “resistance,” except in the minds of the left’s armchair insurgents. An anniversary poll found only 15 percent of Iraqis want immediate withdrawal of coalition troops.
(4) “If Saddam is not found dead, or caught alive, it will be the worst of all possible closures for the war against Iraq.” (Roland Flamini, UPI, April 10, 2003)
One year on: Saddam is in jail. His sons are dead. All but nine of the Pentagon’s deck of cards now fall into one or other of those categories.
(5) “Iraq was a new country cobbled together from several former Ottoman provinces, its lines drawn by the Europeans.” (Mark Mazower, the Independent, April, 2003). It’s a phony state; you can never make a go of it.
I wrote: “There’s nothing in the least bit ‘cobbled’ about it. … As long as you respect its inherently confederal nature, it’ll work fine.”
One year on: Seems to be happening. The coalition transition and new constitution both respect the realities on the ground.
(6) “Turkey is concerned that a Kurdish capture of Kirkuk could help bankroll moves to establish an independent Kurdistan.” (Agence France-Presse, April 9, 2003).
I predicted: “Nothing to worry about…. They’ll settle for being Scotland or Quebec rather than Pakistan.”
One year on: The new constitution formally enshrines them in the same semi-autonomous federal relationship as Scotland has with the United Kingdom and Quebec has with Canada.
(7) “Rather than reforming the Muslim world, the conquest of Iraq will inflame it.” (Jeffrey Simpson, Toronto Globe and Mail, April 10, 2003)
I predicted: “Despite the best efforts of Western doom-mongers to rouse the Arab street, its attitude will remain: Start the jihad without me.”
One year on: In Iran and Syria, it’s the thug regimes that are under pressure. In the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat is broke, and the suicide bombers have lost their sugar daddy. In Libya, Col. Moammar Gadhafi has thrown in the towel.
(8) “Looting is always unsavory. Let’s hope the Americans don’t pilfer the oil.” (Brenda Linane, the Age of Melbourne, April 11, 2003)
One year on: The only folks pilfering the oil were those officials and cronies living high off the hog from the U.N.’s disgusting Oil-For-Food program, a sewer of corruption that ought to force the resignation of Kofi Annan.
(9) “Weapons of Mass Destruction. Remember them? Not a single one has yet been found.” (Bill Neely, Independent TV, April 10, 2003)
One year on: They were found. In Libya. Close enough for me. And, thanks to the suddenly cooperative Colonel Gadhafi, we now know a lot more about A.Q. Khan’s role to disperse Pakistani nuclear technology throughout the Muslim world.
(10) “America is already losing the peace.” (Everyone.)
I predicted: “In a year’s time, Iraq will be, at a bare minimum, the least badly governed state in the Arab world and, at best, pleasant, civilized and thriving. In short: not a bad three weeks’ work.”
One year on: Iraq’s provisional constitution is the most progressive in the Arab world. Business is booming. Oil production is up. The historic marshlands of southern Iraq, environmentally devastated by Saddam, are being restored. In February, attacks on coalition forces fell to the lowest level since the liberation. In a BBC poll, some 56 percent of Iraqis say their lives are much better or somewhat better than a year ago; 71 percent expect their lives to be better still a year from now, and only 6.6 percent say worse. Eighty percent of the country is pleasant and civilized, and the Sunni Triangle will follow. Not a bad year’s work.
I don’t buy the “WMD were found in Libya” argument, but I find those who argue that Libya would have come forward, tattled on its neighbors, and renounced its WMD program if we had not invaded Iraq to be blowing purple haze as well.