Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Democracy and the Middle East

I haven't posted much -- nay, nothing at all -- about the recent events in the Middle East, what with democratic reforms in places like Lebanon and Egypt and elections in the offing in Palestine and the recent vote in Iraq, mainly for two reasons: first, I don't really know a whole lot about that stuff, and unlike many a blogger, I choose to be selective about the things I blog about without knowing anything about them; and second, history takes a long time to happen, and I'm generally skeptical that after decades, and in some cases centuries, of one climate holding sway in the Middle East, a few rapidfire events taking place over the course of two or three years really signals a grand new climate on the way.

I'm posting these thoughts in light of Matthew Yglesias's article about the political implications of things in the Middle East and Kevin Drum's post about some poll results in Lebanon. Ultimately, I think that cautious optimism, rather than outright triumphalism, should be the rule here. I'm reminded of a passage from President George Bush the Elder's book A World Transformed (written with Brent Scowcroft), where the former President describes his feeling at the moment that the Berlin Wall had fallen that he did not want to engage in too triumphal a response. I think he was probably right about that at the time, and that such an approach would be correct now.

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