February 20, 2005

Mr. Friedman Writes A Column

Tom… what the fuck:
Something really is going on with the proverbial "Arab street." The automatic assumption that the "Arab street" will always rally to the local king or dictator - if that king or dictator just waves around some bogus threat or insult from "America," "Israel" or "the West" - is no longer valid. Yes, the Iraq invasion probably brought more anti-American terrorists to the surface. But it also certainly brought more pro-democracy advocates to the surface.
What "automatic assumption"? People in the Middle East don't generally rally around Arab regimes because of bogus threats or insults. They support the regimes because if they don't, they get tossed in prison and tortured, or cracked over the heads by security forces financed by American petrodollars. That, by the way, hasn't changed much of late.

That said, I kind of share Friedman's optimism too. If the encouraging signs out of Gaza and the West Bank turn into a permanent peace, if Iraq survives without a civil war, and if Syria can be forced out of Lebanon (and Lebanon can survive without a civil war), well, the Middle East starts looking like a much nicer place. Of course, the ends will have to be pretty damn glorious to justify the means over the past four years.
-- Brad Plumer 4:45 PM || ||