Saturday, February 26, 2005

It's spreading... 
Looks like the Iraqi election is a pretty difficult phenomenon for Arab dictators to explain away to their people.

From the Associated Press:

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Saturday ordered a revision of the
country's election laws and said multiple candidates could run in the nation's
presidential elections, a scenario Mubarak hasn't faced since taking power in

I'd love to say "it's gotta be the boots, man."

And yes, the announcement comes just a day after the U.S. government, through the Secretary of State, publically bitchslapped Egypt over the recent arrest of a pro-democracy Iraqi dissident.

But all the diplomacy in the world failed to convince Saddam to pull out from Kuwait or comply with the UN resolutions since his expulsion. And it failed to contain Slobodan Milosevic in Bosnia and Kosovo. So I don't have a lot of faith in diplomatic pressure in and of itself.

But I do have a lot of faith in an unstoppable groundswell of popular sentiment... a zeitgeist, if you will, like the zeitgeist that provoked the people of Rumania to overthrow Ceaucescu, and pushed the rest of Eastern Europe into freedom.

Ceaucescu was so corrupt, so far removed from his people, that he ignored it. And wound up getting himself and his wife slaughtered like pigs.

Mubarak is smarter. He sees what happened in Iraq. He sees that his people see what happened in Iraq. And he sees the momentum building in Lebanon, and sees the stars aligning themselves against the Ba'athist regime in Syria.

Mubarak's Egypt is responding to internal stimuli.

Lebanon, I believe, is the lynchpin of the Middle East, now.

Iraq's democracy, while popular internally, was imposed from without. It never would have happened without the U.S. forcing the issue.

But Lebanon has a chance to seize democracy under its own power. People power. That's not to say the Lebanese people aren't going to need a lot of help. Turkey needs to lean on Syria. Egypt needs to lean on them. The Israelis probably need to be publicly agnostic, but support the right of the Lebanese people to determine their own form of government themselves, so long as they do not provide succor to Hezbollah and their crossborder attacks.

Iraq can put them under a great deal of pressure, as can the U.S. via Iraq.

But the engine has to be the will of the Lebanese people.

And if Lebanon can do it...if they can shed the yoke of Syrian domination and create a free and fair election in their own country, then the pressure for reform in the secular Arab states increases exponentially.

And the neo-conservative strategy pays off. Which has the added advantage of pissing off all the right people.

Splash, out


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