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Last updated on March 6th, 2018 at 12:30 am
All this freedom stuff in the Middle East is nothing but a fluke, writes the Sydney Morning Herald’s Paul McGeough. It’s nothing at all to do with President Abush Ghraib and his invasion under false pretences of Iraq:
A diplomat looking at the Middle East today might observe that democracy’s glass is partly full or, perhaps, partly empty. The level does seem to have moved. The debate is: by how much and who is responsible? Regardless, talk of an Arabian spring is premature.
Regardless of what? The fullness of the glass? The emptiness? A diplomat’s eyesight? Evaporation rates?
More than seven weeks after 8 million Iraqis courageously stared down the bombers and gunmen to vote in their first free elections in half a century, they still didn’t have a proper government as their new National Assembly was scheduled to convene in Baghdad yesterday.
Only seven weeks? That’s nothing. It’s been two years since McGeough first warned of an Iraqi civil war, and we’re still waiting (presumably such talk wasn’t “premature”). So if Bush has nothing to do with events in the Middle East, to whom should credit be given?
Now, thanks to September 11 and the much-maligned Al-Jazeera and the other new Arab TV channels, the region is transfixed by the fact that there was an election in Iraq. Others want some of what the Iraqis are having, but only time will tell if it is a step towards their future or their past.
Only time will tell? Future or past? There’s more hedging going on here than Capability Brown achieved in his entire life. Next, McGeough returns to a familiar theme:
Iraq without Saddam has yet to show that it might avoid ethnic and religious strife and descent into full-blown civil war.
Except by so far not descending into full-blown civil war. The US is hopeless at nation-building, by the way:
Apart from West Germany and Japan, only two of the 16 US-led efforts in nation-rebuilding in the last century – tiny Panama and Grenada without a barrel of oil between them – continued to function as democracies 10 years later.
“Apart from West Germany and Japan.” What is this, a stand-up routine? Meanwhile, other Middle East reports note that people aren’t referencing Al-Jazeera:
A line of people in the square carried a 100-yard-long white-and-red Lebanese flag with the distinct green cedar tree in the middle, shaking it up and down and shouting, “Syria out.”
Protesters chanted “Truth, freedom, national unity!” or “We want only the Lebanese army in Lebanon!”
“Syria out, no half measures,” read a banner, borrowing from President Bush’s description of Damascus’ gradual withdrawal from this country of 3.5 million.
And Claudia Rosett reports from Beirut:
Unlike the Hezbollah demonstrators with their chants of “Death to America,” many in the crowd were friendly to Americans. “Thank’s Free World,” (sic) said one poster, held high by a woman in a bright red jacket, Rawya Okal, who told me: “We thank Mr. Bush for his position.” Overhearing this in the throng, a middle-aged man in a green baseball cap, Louis Nahanna, leaned over to say, “We love the American people” – adding, “Please don’t let Bush forget us. Your support is very important.”
Asking more people what they thought of Americans turned up the same refrain. From a young driver, Fadi Mrad, came the message: “We want to change. We need freedom. Please don’t let Bush forget us.” From a group of young men came not only the message “Our hope is America,” and “We believe in democracy in the Middle East,” but also praise for Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. There was also an invitation from one of them, young Edgard Baradhy, for his heroine, Ms. Rice, to come to Beirut “and I am ready to take her for coffee.”
Young Edgard must have seen this photograph.