Victor Davis Hanson on Progressive Change in a Regressive Region
It is clear, or it should be, that the main goal in the Iraq war is that of the liberation of it's people and the installation of self-governance. Yes, the impetus that set us on this course was the WMD question which endangered the region's security as well as our own. The long view, however, is that a free and democratic Iraq will set an example that will inspire revolution in neighboring countries, or fundemental change on the part of the governments due to the threat of revolution.
The indepensible Victor Davis Hanson eloquently and astutely lays out the challanges and enormous opportunities that lie ahead as this unfolds:
Just as the breakdown of a few Communist Eastern European states led to a general collapse of Marxism in the east, or the military humiliation in colonial Africa and the Falklands led to democratic renaissance in Iberia and Argentina, or American military efforts in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Panama City brought cnsensual government to Central America, a reformed Afghanistan and Iraq may prompt what decades of billions of dollars in wasted aid to Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinians, the 1991 Gulf War, and 60 years of appeasement of Gulf petrol-sheiks could not: the end of the old sick calculus of Middle East tyrannies blackmailing the United States through past intrigue with the Soviet Union, then threats of oil embargos and rigged prices, and, most recently, both overt and stealthy support for fundamentalist killers.While the costs of this endeavor may seem high, the costs of having done nothing would have been infinitely higher and the cost of failure or withdrawl, now that we have begun, are unthinkable. Do read the article in it's entirety as it makes the case far better than I ever could.
The similar effort to isolate Arafat, encourage the withdrawal from Gaza, and allow the Israelis to proceed with the fence have brought more opportunity to the Middle East than all of Dennis Ross's shuttles put together, noble and well-meant though his futile efforts were. The onus is on the Palestinians now either to turn Gaza into their own republic or give birth to another Lebanon - their call before a globalized audience. They can hold elections and shame the Arab League by being the embryo of consensual government in the Middle East, or coronate yet another thug and terrorist in hopes that again the United States will play a Chamberlain to their once-elected Hitler.