March 2, 2005


Was George Bush Right About Freedom and Democracy?: Maybe. Maybe Not. (Fred Kaplan, March 2, 2005, Slate)

A question is haunting the blue states of America: Could George W. Bush be right? Is freedom indeed "on the march"? Did the war in Iraq uncork a white tornado that's whooshing democracy across the region and beyond?

In just the past two months, free elections were held in Palestine and Iraq; a rigged election was overturned and an honest one re-held in Ukraine; the Egyptian president pledged to hold competitive elections soon, too; and a popular uprising against Syria's occupation of Lebanon forced Beirut's puppet government to resign—all this, amid President Bush's proclamation that the main aim of American foreign policy is to advance the cause of global freedom.

It's a huge stretch to view these uprisings as a seamless wave of democracy; but it would go too far in the other direction to see them as strictly discrete events, each unrelated to the other. The evidence suggests that we're seeing at least a stream of wavelets; that the participants in one country have been inspired to take action, at least in part, by the example of participants in other countries. And therefore, the inference can be drawn, still others, elsewhere, might be inspired to take similar actions, or make similar demands, in the weeks and months ahead.

Finally, while it's absurd to think that Bush set the upheavals of '05 in motion, it's churlish not to grant him any credit at all.

Someone who's written such obtuse essays as this one, this recently ought to be a bit more gracious even if he's choking on his crow.

Syrian-Allied Lebanese Government Quits Amid Pressure (MASNET & News Agencies, February 28, 2005)

Assad said he thought Washington might eventually resort to military action against his country, reports Reuters news agency.

"Washington has imposed sanctions on us and isolated us in the past, but each time the circle hasn't closed around us," Assad told La Repubblica.

"If, however, you ask me if I'm expecting an armed attack, well I've seen it coming since the end of the war in Iraq."

Funny how the folks in the region are quite explicit about what the regime change in Iraq meant to them, but Left can't accept their word.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 2, 2005 8:56 PM

They are hiding in the bushes, now that they have been Left behind.

Posted by: Oswald Booth Czolgosz at March 2, 2005 9:18 PM

I find their churlishness rather absurd.

Posted by: ratbert at March 2, 2005 10:12 PM

To the left, this hurts even more than the fall of the Iron Curtain, because when that happened Reagan at least had the decency to have been out of office for eight months, and GHWB took on a "no gloat" policy towards both the Soviets and the Democrats about the sudden outbreak of freedom in Eastern Europe.

In this case, all this is happing while GWB still has 46 1/2 months left in office, and with all the quotes coming out of the Middle East hot spots about how Bush and the Iraq election have been major factors, his foes are left pretty much grumbling that Bush basically won the democracy lotto and he should only be credited for shelling out the buck to buy the ticket, while trying to avoid telling the people in the streets in Lebanon that when they mention Bush or Iraq, they don't know what they're talking about.

Posted by: John at March 2, 2005 10:22 PM


I've got a book at home compiling all sorts of silly prognostications from pollsters and pundits regarding the inevitability of a Dewey victory in 1948.

I think you need to do a similar round-up, complete with comments from this blog. All the liberal choir from Maureen Dowd on down will be eligible candidates for the hall of shame. We can even vote on which comment comes off as most addlebrained in retrospect.

Way down on the totem pole, I should probably acknowledge that my predictions of the Sunnis causing major uproars is starting to look, uh, a little off.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at March 2, 2005 10:55 PM

Was George Bush Right About Freedom and Democracy?: Maybe. Maybe Not.

Ok...but has Fred Kaplan ever been right about anything?....

(Though to be fair we are witnessing here a sea change of miraculous proportions. Note that Bush isn't declared wrong right off the bat. There is the thinnest intimation of a possibility of a chance that maybe, just maybe he was right. Of course, it's only a rhetorical flourish and shrugged off almost immediately---the proposition made only to be shot out of the water in the next moment; but then of miracles, one usually only catches a brief glimpse....And who knows what may happen when clarity, however brief, however rhetorical, starts to worm its way into wooly-headed ideologues?)

Posted by: Barry Meislin at March 3, 2005 2:22 AM

Wasn't Bill Gates trying to dump Slate finally? Without Slate, Kaplan will be hanging around the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel with a sign saying 'Will blog for food.'

Posted by: Bart at March 3, 2005 6:37 AM


The Washington Post bought Slate, so Kaplan ought to fit right in.

Posted by: Brian (MN) at March 3, 2005 9:10 AM