March 3, 2005


Cedar revolution: Can the French and the Anglo-Saxons walk the road to Damascus together? (Timothy Garton Ash, March 3, 2005, The Guardian)

Has Osama bin Laden started a democratic revolution in the Middle East? One of very few universally valid laws of history is the law of unintended consequences. The effects of what men and women do are rarely those they intend, and sometimes they are the exact opposite. If that happens here, it would be hard to imagine a nicer illustration of the law.

Suppose al-Qaida had not destroyed the twin towers in New York. Would the Middle East be in such ferment? Would there be demonstrators for Lebanese independence on what people have already called "liberation square" in Beirut? Would there now be a serious beginning for a Palestinian state, elections (however flawed) in Iraq and even tiny palm shoots of democratic reform in Egypt and Saudi Arabia? And would the democratisation of the wider Middle East be a central preoccupation of American and European policy? [...]

To say this does not mean that George Bush has been right all along. It doesn't mean the Iraq war was right. There's a crowing triumphalist narrative out of Washington which is to be resisted - not because it comes from Washington, but because it's wrong and counter-productive. Here, for example, is what the undersecretary of state for global affairs, Paula Dobriansky, said on Monday: "As the president noted in Bratislava just last week, there was a rose revolution in Georgia, an orange revolution in Ukraine, and most recently, a purple revolution in Iraq. In Lebanon, we see growing momentum for a 'cedar revolution' that is unifying the citizens of that nation to the cause of true democracy and freedom from foreign influence."

Spot the odd one out. "Purple revolution" in Iraq? Purple, as in the colour of blood? There's a vital difference between a democratic revolution which is peaceful, authentic and generated by people inside a country and one that is imposed, or kick-started, by a military invasion and occupation.

With the exceptions of Spain, Portugal and Switzerland is there a country in Western Europe whose current democracy was installed by democratic revolution? Weren't they all imposed by Anglo-American invasion and occupation?

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 3, 2005 9:29 AM

I wonder whether this moron thought of the color metaphor first, and then had figure out how to fill up a page with impressionistic "analysis". Tellingly, he blows the interpretation of Iraq's "purple revolution". Purple is not the color of blood. Purple is a mixture of Red and Blue. Red is the color of blood, both coalition and Iraqi; Blue is the color of the first free elections in the Arab world. If you think you could have had the latter without the other, or that the latter is somewhat tainted because it involved blood shedding, you may be beyond reasoning.

Posted by: Moe from NC at March 3, 2005 9:51 AM

When did purple become the color of blood (as opposed to, say, rose)? Purple was the color of the ink that marked an Iraqi voter's hand.

Posted by: pj at March 3, 2005 9:51 AM

The Klingon blood in Star Trek VI was purple so it could get a PG rating and yet still keep the cool zero-gravity effect. Maybe that's what he's talking about. It has about as much to do with reality as Star Trek VI.

Posted by: Governor Breck at March 3, 2005 10:40 AM

One should note that Sweden is democratic without having it installed by Anglo-American troops. (Norway, Denmark, and France maybe qualify as well, if you don't count the Great WW II Rescue -- they were democracies before the war)

Posted by: Tony Zbaraschuk at March 3, 2005 10:43 AM

But collaborators during.

Posted by: oj at March 3, 2005 10:54 AM

--Would there now be a serious beginning for a Palestinian state, --

once the thug was dead, anything was possible.

Posted by: Sandy P at March 3, 2005 10:55 AM

When will we liberate Liechtenstein? The Shah always falls.

Posted by: h-man at March 3, 2005 11:59 AM

Bush said he was going to do it. They said don't do it. Bush went ahead and started doing it. They said he is messing it up, we have to pull out now.

Now Bush has done it. They say Bush had nothing to do with it.

This doofus says that Osama gets the credit.


Posted by: Robert Schwartz at March 3, 2005 2:57 PM

The British, preferring to be subjects rather than citizens and allowing a group of people to inherit political power rather than run for election, have no appreciation or understanding of democracy. Many members of their chattering classes and political class are the products of inherited place not actual merit and resist the notion that the people should choose their rulers.

Posted by: Bart at March 4, 2005 8:38 AM