Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Middle East - Democracy Spreading

Shortly after 9/11 America invaded Afghanistan, routed Al Qaeda and defeated the Taliban. Recently Afghanistan held their first free and fair elections.

Next, America invaded Iraq, defeated the much vaunted Special Republican guard and captured the dictator Saddam. Recently Iraq held their first free and fair elections.

Inspired by all of this the Ukrainians overturned a stolen election and held new, free and fair elections.

The despot Arafat died and now the Palestinians have held free and fair elections.

Even Saudi Arabia is experimenting with elections. They have a long way to go and this maybe more for show but you can't put this genie back in the bottle.

All this happened during Bush's first four years in office. The next four promise to be even more eventful.

In this technologically advanced 21st century, news spreads like wildfire via radio, TV, email and the Internet; complete with photographs and video. More and more the people of the Middle East learn that their leaders have been lying to them - America is not the evil empire they were told it was.

All over the Middle East people watched as first the Afghanistanis voted, then the Iraqis and next the Palestinians.

Syrians and Iranians had to watch, first hand, in envy as expat Iraqis voted for the first time. The huge grins on those expats as they exited the polling booths after voting must have lit a phosphorus fire in the hearts of people all over the Middle East. A fire that will not be extinguished. A fire that burns continuous and begs the question - when? When will we get our freedom to vote? When?

You can see that fire growing, burning brighter every day. In Lebanon 10s of thousands took to the streets in protest of the Syrian occupation. In Iran "Tehran, Feb. 21 – Heavy clashes between Iranian Kurds and security agents erupted on Friday in three towns in western Iran, leaving dozens injured and hundreds arrested." The Iranian citizens came out in support of the protesters and chased away the security forces.

Now the fire is spreading to Egypt.

Hundreds of protesters have staged a demonstration against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

It was the largest such rally in a series of anti-government protests which began in December.

Much remains to be done but the profound changes brought about by George Bush in just four short years are astounding. Re-elected with a huge majority and unable to run for a third term, Bush will use these successes as a springboard to even greater success.

The next four years are going to be truly amazing. What a great time to be alive.

Michael Ledeen has similar thoughts.

We should be funding more (mostly private) radio and television broadcasting to Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran. The people in those countries know that they are being lied to by their governments, but they don't know the truth, especially about their own country. If you read some of the blogs from Iran, for example (and there are lots of them!), you find a reflexive rejection of anything that the government says: mullahs say Bush bad, people believe Bush good, for example. They need information. People in Tehran need to know what's going on in Isfahan, people in Damascus need to know what's happening in Aleppo or Beirut, people in Riyadh need to know the latest from the Eastern provinces.

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