Freedom's long march
It is only a matter of time before the proverbial
walls come tumbling down from Beirut to Tehran
March 9, 2005
"Freedom is on the March!" This was stated
by President Bush in response to the recent events that have been
in the Middle East. Actions of great magnitude have occurred in
the Arab world that can lead to bigger and greater things in the
Middle East. I'm sure a lot of Mr. Bush's elitist critics
are grinding their teeth in frustration at being wrong. They were
wrong in thinking that Dubya's aspirations for liberty in
the Middle East were nothing more than a pipe dream.
Remember back in the 80's when a lot of "pragmatic" slobs
doubted President Reagan's goal of defeating communism? Well
before we all knew it the Iron Curtain rusted away, so to speak,
and today most of Eastern Europe is free and prosperous as a consequence
of Reagan's legacy. A decade from now the Middle East may very
well be on that road too.
Total credit cannot go to Mr. Bush and his administration alone
in the occurrence of these developments but rather an interplay
of their desire for greater change in a politically stagnant area
and a number of events both good and bad. Of great importance were
the efforts of courageous dissidents from Cairo to Tehran some
of whom have paid the ultimate sacrifice for their cause.
The tradition of authoritarian rule in the Arab nations seems
to be crumbling and this was manifested in the recent elections
in Palestine and in Iraq. The moderates among the Palestinians
are no longer keeping a low profile among the vocal minority who
think that they can achieve their aims by sending suicide bombers
to murder Israeli civilians. Hopefully they will be able to toe
the line against the purveyors of anger and violence.
And the Iraqis have made known that they want to rebuild their
nation in the democratic tradition of casting ballots and remaining
steadfast against the criminals, Saddam loyalists and Islamofascist
who want to bring Iraq to complete chaos and destruction. The Iraqis
had shown these sub humans that the threats of car bombs, hit squads
and beheadings are not enough to deter them from their dream of
Iraq being free and prosperous.
One thing is leading to another like in Lebanon a momentum was
slowly building for a united front against Syria's domination
over Beirut. A leading voice for this crusade was the billionaire
politician Rafiq Hariri. He was killed on Valentine's Day by a
car bomb and it was supposedly carried out by an unknown Syrian
terrorist group. Instead of cowering the Lebanese into shock and
silence, quite the opposite had happened. This event miraculously
united Lebanese from all religions and all walks of life to embark
on a grass roots campaign to rid Lebanon once and for all of Syria's
Last week some 25,000 Lebanese nationals
had gathered in Martyr's Square in Beirut in a massive show
of resolve and solidarity. They had come out to call for the complete
withdrawal of Syrian troops and intelligence agents from Lebanon
so they could have a free and fair parliamentary election in May.
Such a massive display of non violent and ordered civil disobedience
has never been seen in the Arab world and this was directed against
one of the most brutal regimes in the world.
Despite Tuesday's huge pro-Syrian rally in
Beirut organized by Hizbollah, the Syrians are in a serious bind.
The international community is pretty much unanimous in their desire
for a prompt
without any preconditions. That would mean the release of Damascus's
stranglehold over Beirut and enabling Lebanon to progress and prosper.
Lebanon's new found freedom from Syria would enable it
to have free and fair elections in May and another positive milestone
would be added to the Middle East. Imagine broadcast images on
Arabic satellite television stations showing jubilant crowds of
Lebanese celebrating their independence and new found liberty.
Those images would make the citizens of other Arab and Muslim nations
want the same thing for themselves.
The Egyptians, the Saudis, Jordanians, Syrians and other nationalities
would all ask the same question: "Why can't the same
thing happen to us?" Recently we had seen new developments
like the municipal elections in Saudi Arabia which were mostly
symbolic and without much substance but nonetheless a big change
for the al Saud family. What's more, Egypt's President Mubarak,
who has ruled for 24 years, announced his desire for a
constitutional amendment to allow multi candidate presidential
elections. I guess he got tired of feeling alone during his one
man election campaigns all these years.
Then there is Iran, a non-Arab nation that has been run by Shiite
clerics for the past 26 years. It is a brutal oligarchy
that has an anti American/anti Israeli platform that is marked
by viciousness, pervasive government control, nepotism, corruption
and pervasive mismanagement of the nation's affairs.
The irony is the Iranians themselves are probably the most pro
American in the Muslim world. Another point is that the majority
of Iranians have no feeling of resentment towards Israel because
the two nations have no issues of contention between them. So the
contrast of the mentality and desires of the Iranian people and
that of the ruling Islamofascist oligarchy running the nation is
so big it baffles many.
One sees in the people of Iran a great yearning to be a part
of the world community, to be respected and for Iran to be an ideal
model to her neighbors. More and more people in Iran today have
less interest in Islam because it symbolizes their oppression and
daily struggle for survival. Many of Iran's youth are hoping
for great success in the U.S. operation in Iraq. It will be too
much for the Iranian people to bear when they see more and more
of their neighbors enjoying new found freedom and optimism.
It is only a matter of time before the proverbial walls come
tumbling down which seems very certain in Lebanon this May. The
demographics of the nations, the poor state of the economies, the
collective desire by the populace for better lives and increasing
U.S. pressure makes profound change unavoidable. One way or another
it will happen.
This will be beneficial to the citizen's of these nations
and to wider security concerns around the world. 9/11 made us realize
that oppressive governments are very bad for the peace and stability
of the world even if that tyranny is on friendly terms with those
concerned. Tyrannies stay in power through lies, threats and terror.
They spend a great deal of time and resources to stay in power;
time and resources that could be better spent on education, healthcare,
infrastructure development and so on. Also they aim to direct the
anger and frustration of their populations at imagined external
enemies through the state controlled media and education systems
so that it lessens the likelihood that the collective rage will
be turned on them.
Natan Sharansky for those of you who do not know him was a dissident
from the former Soviet Union; a man of great courage, conviction
and vision. For years he has been saying basically
this: democratic nations are far less likely to wage war on their
citizens of democratic nations are far less likely to engage in
acts of terrorism. It does not pay to keep friendly dictatorships
in power. The hijackings, car bombings, beheadings and other brutal
crimes that have been carried out against civilians around the
world unequivocally prove this!
The Bush administration has realized America's past blunders
in treating these nations as gas pumps and nothing else. For reasons
of morality and national security,
America must press harder for political and economic reform in
the Middle East just as they had done in Central and Eastern Europe.