I'm starting this discussion by ignoring the dissonance of whether it was right or wrong for the US to initiate combat in Iraq. I thought it was then and I think it was now. Regardless of all of that in the last month we have seen populist uprisings all through Northern Africa and the Middle East. I don't think it is coincidental that as Iraq has gained more self-control and seen several successful elections, that the rest of the Arab Street is taking notice and attempting at least to throw off the chains of dictators and tyrants.
Throughout his administration President GW Bush said many times a free and independent Iraq would indeed change much in the Middle East. His words are being borne out on the streets of Cairo, Tripoli, Tunis, Manama and Beirut. Tehran is also bubbling with protest fever. Admittedly some of these protests have been against "pro-American" leaders, but so what. The bottom line is these people want the right and the ability to make their own choices and not have governments foisted on them from anyone else.
I remember watching President Bush's second Inaugural address and being touched by this passage:
Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world:
All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.
Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country.
The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it."
The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to trust them. Start on this journey of progress and justice, and America will walk at your side.
And all the allies of the United States can know: we honor your friendship, we rely on your counsel, and we depend on your help. Division among free nations is a primary goal of freedom's enemies. The concerted effort of free nations to promote democracy is a prelude to our enemies' defeat.
Clearly he saw something the rest of us didn't yet see, call it the reverse domino theory.
Here's the thing about all of this, the media, well the mainstream media anyway will come up with a whole host of reasons for all of this rioting and desiring of freedom from these countries, and I almost guarantee none of it will mention that President Bush said for the last five years of his administration that Iraq's freedom would lead to other nations demanding the same thing.
They will come up with any thing they can to attribute this sweeping change, but none of the credit will be placed at the man's feet where it belongs. The media HATES George W. Bush, they can't stand him. There is no way they will have the stones to write columns praising the Bush Doctrine.
Meanwhile the despots are vowing to "fight until the very last bullet," as Libyan strongman Moammar Qaddafi's son recently pledged.
It is now in the hands of Bush's successor, Barack Obama to see to it that these protests are heard; that voices are not silenced; and that all that can be done to end these oppressive regimes is done. I am not advocating America show force or attempt to use these moments to install further puppet governments. Rather the last remaining super power needs to merely let the world know we see what is going on and we will as another president said more than 50 years ago "......We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty."
On the one hand all of the turmoil scares me a little from a geopolitical world view that we could be seeing the beginnings of the next and possibly last great war of mankind. On the other hand, though it could even if there are some bumps in the road, be the stepping stone to some real change in one of the most violent, turbulent regions in all the world.
Here's hoping that the peaceful toleration of Egypt's Muslims and Christians wasn't a one-time affair. We can all hope that this changing climate brings much peace to the Cradle of Civilization and that indeed civility is returned to such a historically rich part of our big green marble.
And here's hoping that someday the man who saw all of what could happen with the ouster of one terrible regime will be recognized properly. George W. Bush might have done with one limited war what thousands of years and hundreds of people could not. Bring peace to the Middle East.
Cross posted from my blog at http://michaelcmorris.blogspot.com