March 1, 2005

While I Was Out

It looks like while I was out of town and bumming around the Caribbean all sorts of big stuff went down.

When Shelly and I first arrived in San Juan I turned on the news for the first and only time. (Like I said a few days ago, it takes me a while to get out of my habits and feel like I’m on vacation.) Because this is the age of the Terror War, sure enough someone had blown something up somewhere in the world. But this wasn’t just another terrorist bomb. The former prime minister of Lebanon was assassinated. “Ten to one Syria did it,” I said to Shelly.

Then we went out and explored the fine old Spanish colonial city and I forgot all about it. The only other event I was aware of was the sad news that Hunter S. Thompson - who once lived in San Juan - had killed himself.

Now that I’m home and have had time to get back into the news cycle all I can say is wow. It looks like some Arabs had their own 911.

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I’ve been wanting to say something about this for the past couple of days, but I’ve been playing catch-up at the same time and haven’t come up with anything particularly original. So instead I’ll link to Mark Steyn who does a fine job explaining what’s going on in the new Middle East.
Consider just the past couple of days' news: not the ever more desperate depravity of the floundering “insurgency”, but the real popular Arab resistance the car-bombers and the head-hackers are flailing against: the Saudi foreign minister, who by remarkable coincidence goes by the name of Prince Saud, told Newsweek that women would be voting in the next Saudi election. “That is going to be good for the election,” he said, “because I think women are more sensible voters than men.”

Four-time Egyptian election winner - and with 90 per cent of the vote! - President Mubarak announced that next polling day he wouldn't mind an opponent. Ordering his stenographer to change the constitution to permit the first multi-choice presidential elections in Egyptian history, His Excellency said the country would benefit from “more freedom and democracy”. The state-run TV network hailed the president's speech as a “historical decision in the nation's 7,000-year-old march toward democracy”. After 7,000 years on the march, they're barely out of the parking lot, so Mubarak's move is, as they say, a step in the right direction.

Meanwhile in Damascus, Boy Assad, having badly overplayed his hand in Lebanon and after months of denying that he was harbouring any refugee Saddamites, suddenly discovered that - wouldja believe it? - Saddam's brother and 29 other bigshot Baghdad Baathists were holed up in north-eastern Syria, and promptly handed them over to the Iraqi government.

And, for perhaps the most remarkable development, consider this report from Mohammed Ballas of Associated Press: “Palestinians expressed anger on Saturday at an overnight suicide bombing in Tel Aviv that killed four Israelis and threatened a fragile truce, a departure from former times when they welcomed attacks on their Israeli foes.”

No disrespect to Associated Press, but I was disinclined to take their word for it. However, Charles Johnson, whose Little Green Footballs website has done an invaluable job these past three years presenting the ugly truth about Palestinian death-cultism, reported that he went hunting around the internet for the usual photographs of deliriously happy Gazans dancing in the street and handing out sweets to celebrate the latest addition to the pile of Jew corpses - and, to his surprise, couldn't find any.

Why is all this happening? Answer: January 30. Don't take my word for it, listen to Walid Jumblatt, big-time Lebanese Druze leader and a man of impeccable anti-American credentials: “I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, eight million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world. The Berlin Wall has fallen.”
I wouldn’t say the Berlin Wall has fallen. I won’t say that until it looks like the Terror War has come to an end. But perhaps this is the end of the beginning. At least it’s the beginning of a new and interesting chapter. The Brett Scowcrofts and Henry Kissingers of the world think it’s a lousy idea to destabilize tyrannical parts of the globe. This week reminds me – in spades – why I just can’t subscribe to their worldview.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at March 1, 2005 7:24 PM

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Essays

Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

Looking the World in the Eye
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

In the Eigth Circle of Thieves
E.L. Doctorow, The Nation

Against Rationalization
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation

The Wall
Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic

Jihad Versus McWorld
Benjamin Barber, The Atlantic Monthly

The Sunshine Warrior
Bill Keller, The New York Times Magazine

Power and Weakness
Robert Kagan, Policy Review

The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn