Saturday, February 19, 2005

Victor Davis Hanson on the Middle East

Victor Davis Hanson on the Middle East and Reform: "Now in hindsight, few seem to object to the ostracism of Arafat or estrangement from Saudi Arabia. The moral?
As a rule of thumb in matters of the Middle East, be very skeptical of anything that Europe (fearful of terrorists, eager for profits, tired of Jews, scared of their own growing Islamic minorities) and the Arab League (a synonym for the autocratic rule of Sunni Muslim grandees and secular despots) cook up together. If a EU president, a Saudi royal, and a Middle East specialist in the State Department or a professor in an endowed Middle Eastern Studies chair agree that the United States is 'woefully naive,' 'unnecessarily provocative' or 'acting unilaterally,' then assume that we are pretty much on the right side of history and promoting democratic reform. 'Sobriety' and 'working with Arab moderates' is diplo-speak for supporting or abetting an illiberal hierarchy.... "

And, "The American effort to democratize postwar Afghanistan and Iraq has placed a heavy burden on the United States to develop a coherent and consistent policy of supporting reformers throughout the Middle East. We should continue with demands for elections in a Lebanon free of a tyrannical Syria, elevate dissidents in Iran onto the world stage, pressure for change in the Gulf, and say goodbye to Wahhabi Saudi Arabia. If Western elites are really worried about the legitimacy of past elections in Iraq, let them go instead to Lebanon where they can worry first about having any at all, and then later complain about the proper degree of voter participation. The forces of history have been unleashed and we should cease apologizing for the deluge and instead steer the waves in the right direction.

Americans understandably focus on the hot wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet just as important are the unsung successes that received little praise, and then have a weird tendency to drift off into the collective global amnesia as if they arose from natural, not American-induced, reform."

Do read it all and all of anything VDH writes. His homepage can be found here.

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