Democracy and change in the Middle East

The "mainstream press" - which will be mainstream no more at current subscription and viewer rates - widely jeered at President Bush's pronouncements on spreading democracy in the Middle East as a solution to regional warfare and conflict.

Now several years into the Bush policy, a pattern seems to be emerging that even many critics cannot ignore. Elections in Afghanistan (no NYT "quagmire"). Elections in Iraq (no terrorist bloodbath). Coalition building in Iraq across religious and sect lines (no fundamentalist regime). A real Palestinian election and a pro-peace government. Spontaneous outbursts of freedom and tolerance in Lebanon. A possible contested election in Egypt. And don't forget Libya's turn-around. Enormous pressure on the tyrant in Syria, even from Arab governments. Growing resistance to the fundamentalist religious dictatorship in Iran.

This world is obviously not following the New York Times/CBS script!

The growing isolation of the terrorists in Iraq illustrates the trend as well. They are increasedly only foreign, often robbed of passports to keep them there after they see that the situation is wildly at odds with the radical views of Arab media, and frequently under the infuence of narcotics to help their "martyrdom" impulses. There will be more tragedy, more senseless deaths, but the trend is clearly emerging that a new Iraq is taking hold.

As to those who say that these developments are "unexpected" or "unintended" - that the goal of the Iraq intervention changed, etc. Just look at the name of the military operation from February 2003: Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Ultimately it is , of course, a political process. Just as accurately, it would not have developed in this pattern, with this intensity, and the new sense of inevitability without sacrifices by U.S. and coalition military and brave Iraqi and Afghan soldiers and police volunteers.

History is made in small moves that taken alone normally do not jump out to contemporary observers. Only with the passage of time does the pattern of change seem apparent. In just two years, we are seeing history unfold before us. Of course, there will be set-backs and delays. There will be frustration, false starts and "rear-guard" actions by the forces that see their end on the horizon. But the trend is already emerging and hope is one of the most powerful forces of mankind. People in a region of the world that most Western elites had written off, now have hope.

Every person of good will should wish them well and continue to do what is in our power to help reshape history and share their hope.

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