Of Dominoes and Democracy

“Lebanon’s youth electrifies hope for a new beginning”
“US and France demand Syria leave Lebanon”
“Russia on Tuesday called for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Lebanon”
“Rice Offers Lebanon U.S. Election Help”

What’s going on over there?! Lebanese demanding self government and democracy? Freedom might be dirty word on the left but many of the world’s unfree yearn for a taste of it.

These excerpts from, "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," (of all things) highlight the unfortunate and unenviable position that the left finds itself in today in opposing the Iraq war on the grounds that the US is little more than a global oppressor, and Bush an idiot for believing that deposing one dictator can bring anything resembling democracy to the Middle East.

The Bush Administration is referred to as 'these guys' throughout.

Stewart: But what do you make of--here's my dilemma, if you will. I don't care for the way these guys conduct themselves--and this is just you and I talking, no cameras here [audience laughter]. But boy, when you see the Lebanese take to the streets and all that, and you go, "Oh my God, this is working," and I begin to wonder, is it--is the way that they handled it really--it's sort of like, "Uh, OK, my daddy hits me, but look how tough I'm getting." You know what I mean? Like, you don't like the method, but maybe--wrong analogy, is that, uh--?

Soderberg: Well, I think, you know, as a Democrat, you don't want anything nice to happen to the Republicans, and you don't want them to have progress. But as an American, you hope good things would happen. I think the way to look at it is, they can't credit for every good thing that happens, but they need to be able to manage it. I think what's happening in Lebanon is great, but it's not necessarily directly related to the fact that we went into Iraq militarily.

Stewart: Do you think that the people of Lebanon would have had, sort of, the courage of their conviction, having not seen--not only the invasion but the election which followed? It's almost as though that the Iraqi election has emboldened this crazy--something's going on over there. I'm smelling something.

Soderberg: I think partly what's going on is the country next door, Syria, has been controlling them for decades, and they [the Syrians] were dumb enough to blow up the former prime minister of Lebanon in Beirut, and they're--people are sort of sick of that, and saying, "Wait a minute, that's a stretch too far." So part of what's going on is they're just protesting that. But I think there is a wave of change going on, and if we can help ride it though the second term of the Bush administration, more power to them.

Stewart: Do you think they're the guys to--do they understand what they've unleashed? Because at a certain point, I almost feel like, if they had just come out at the very beginning and said, "Here's my plan: I'm going to invade Iraq. We'll get rid of a bad guy because that will drain the swamp"--if they hadn't done the whole "nuclear cloud," you know, if they hadn't scared the pants off of everybody, and just said straight up, honestly, what was going on, I think I'd almost--I'd have no cognitive dissonance, no mixed feelings.

Strange, isn't it? The selective attention and memory of the left. For me, WMD was always a secondary reason for invading Iraq. I don't know how anyone could miss the connection to 9/11, removing dictators, and getting freedom into that region! To say, "Golly! I wish they had talked about freedom before this. Maybe I would have gone a long with it." Duh. Hello. Draining the swamp is exactly what we've been talking about.

Soderberg: The truth always helps in these things, I have to say. But I think that there is also going on in the Middle East peace process--they may well have a chance to do a historic deal with the Palestinians and the Israelis. These guys could really pull off a whole--

Stewart: This could be unbelievable!

Soderberg:---series of Nobel Peace Prizes here, which--it may well work. I think that, um, it's--

Stewart: [buries head in hands] Oh my God! [audience laughter] He's got, you know, here's--

Soderberg: It's scary for Democrats, I have to say.

Stewart: He's gonna be a great--pretty soon, Republicans are gonna be like, "Reagan was nothing compared to this guy." Like, my kid's gonna go to a high school named after him, I just know it.

Soderberg: Well, there's still Iran and North Korea, don't forget. There's hope for the rest of us.

There's still hope for the left, maybe there'll be another 9/11 too.

Stewart: [crossing fingers] Iran and North Korea, that's true, that is true [audience laughter]. No, it's--it is--I absolutely agree with you, this is--this is the most difficult thing for me to--because, I think, I don't care for the tactics, I don't care for this, the weird arrogance, the setting up. But I gotta say, I haven't seen results like this ever in that region.

Soderberg: Well wait. It hasn't actually gotten very far. I mean, we've had--

Stewart: Oh, I'm shallow! I'm very shallow!

Soderberg: There's always hope that this might not work. No, but I think, um, it's--you know, you have changes going on in Egypt; Saudi Arabia finally had a few votes, although women couldn't participate. What's going on here in--you know, Syria's been living in the 1960s since the 1960s--it's, part of this is--

Stewart: You mean free love and that kind of stuff? [audience laughter] Like, free love, drugs?

Soderberg: If you're a terrorist, yeah.

Stewart: They are Baathists, are they--it looks like, I gotta say, it's almost like we're not going to have to invade Iran and Syria. They're gonna invade themselves at a certain point, no? Or is that completely naive?

Soderberg: I think it's moving in the right direction. I'll have to give them credit for that. We'll see. opinionjournal.com

The invasion of Iraq was only the beginning. Contrary to what many on the left want to believe, the strategic goal here is freedom throughout the middle east. No, it's not guaranteed, it's not automatic, and it isn't going to be cheap. But it is proactive, and it can work.

In the end all the left has had to offer so far is criticism, and Jimmy Carter style 'democratic' reform, that is, smiling at dictators and asking them nicely to give freedom to their subjects. That wasn't enough to win the cold war, and that's not enough to win the war on terror either. It's the central reason I believe Kerry lost the election. He couldn't prove that he wasn't Jimmy Carter in a John Kerry suit.

We are starting to see just some of the fruit of deposing Saddam and giving Iraqi's their government back. After all, we are still in the process of doing that. And I believe that in the years to come we will see much more.

Posted by Eric Simonson at March 2, 2005 4:56 PM