Today the world has witnessed the end of the Gaddafi era in Libya. Nobody knows how things will develop in Libya, Egypt or the other countries swept by the popular uprisings during the Arab spring. But at least there is hope now for the peoples who for such a long time have been oppressed by unscrupulous dictators.
On a day like this, it is good to remember that these popular uprisings almost certainly would not have taken place without the much maligned policies of president George W. Bush and the Iraq war.
In a speech at the American Enterprise Institute in Frebruary 2003, president Bush had the following to say about freedom in the Arab world:
The world has a clear interest in the spread of democratic values, because stable and free nations do not breed the ideologies of murder. They encourage the peaceful pursuit of a better life. And there are hopeful signs of a desire for freedom in the Middle East. Arab intellectuals have called on Arab governments to address the "freedom gap" so their peoples can fully share in the progress of our times. Leaders in the region speak of a new Arab charter that champions internal reform, greater politics participation, economic openness, and free trade. And from Morocco to Bahrain and beyond, nations are taking genuine steps toward politics reform. A new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region.
It is presumptuous and insulting to suggest that a whole region of the world -- or the one-fifth of humanity that is Muslim -- is somehow untouched by the most basic aspirations of life. Human cultures can be vastly different. Yet the human heart desires the same good things, everywhere on Earth. In our desire to be safe from brutal and bullying oppression, human beings are the same. In our desire to care for our children and give them a better life, we are the same. For these fundamental reasons, freedom and democracy will always and everywhere have greater appeal than the slogans of hatred and the tactics of terror.
But, as columnist Ralp Peters recently pointed out, left-leaning American and European liberals, and Arab leaders will not admit the importance of the Bush "freedom doctrine" any time soon (that will be done later by historians):
Over the past week, we’ve seen Egypt’s deposed dictator face charges in a court of law; the tanks of Syria’s dictator killing—but not deterring—unarmed freedom protesters; and ill-armed-but-determined Libyan rebels gnawing their way into the strongholds of the man responsible for more American deaths than any other terrorist but Osama bin Laden. While plenty of problems will plague the Middle East for decades to come, the pace of largely positive change has been swifter than anyone (not least, the Arabs themselves) imagined possible.
For all the dangers and difficulties ahead, there’s real hope in the Middle East for the first time in over a half-century. And the man who made it possible is George W. Bush.
Oh, Bush will continue to be vilified by our own spiteful left, by Euro-snobs, and by Arabs unable to admit that the American destruction of Saddam Hussein’s regime awakened them to the realization that dictators don’t have to be forever. But the endless calumny doesn’t matter much in the face of Bush’s historic achievement. Future historians will get it: The occupation of Iraq may have been clumsy, but there’s nonetheless a direct line from the image of a grubby, confused Saddam Hussein emerging from his hole in the ground to the sight of Egypt’s former president, Hosni Mubarak, in a court-room cage.
Bush and the neo-conservatives who drove the invasion of Iraq got many of the details wrong—not least, their assumption that they were smarter than any mere generals—but their great insight was that the Middle East had to change, but couldn’t change on its own. Something had to break the cycle of failure and oppression, or the region would continue to produce Islamist fanatics and crises without end.
Read the entire article here