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The neo-conservative cabal that diabolically pulled the strings in the Bush administration made many claims about their illegal invasion of Iraq.
(That was a fun sentence to write, by the way. Really takes you back, doesn’t it?)
One of the claims was: a free and democratic Iraq might inspire other democratic movements in the region. The only other free country in the neighborhood is Israel, went the thinking, so maybe Arab and Muslim countries need a democracy to call their own.
Sowing democracy in an anti-democratic region struck some as naive, and maybe even stupid. It would be destabilizing. Autocratic regimes that were reliably sane might fall, and be replaced by crazier Iran-revolutionary kind of loonies.
It boiled down to this basic argument: Destabilizing the region is too risky — the upside is murky and the downside is disastrous. Democracy is a good thing, but it’ll have to come gradually, through slow and steady diplomacy with corrupt, autocratic regimes. And the counter-argument: Destabilizing the region is necessary — corrupt, autocratic regimes in the region have created the culture of paranoia and they’ve exported their nutjobs to the United States, to take flying lessons on student visas. It’s time for bold action.
The neo-con dreamers won that argument. Iraq is now a shaky, sometimes violent democracy. (But then, so is Baltimore.)
Even President Obama and his secretary of state recognized the remarkable achievement [of Iraq’s democratic government]. Each released statements praising the Iraqis’ accomplishment.
It’s hard to miss the irony: The candidate who wanted to accelerate U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, which likely would have doomed the country to chaos and genocide, is now sounding indistinguishable from his predecessor.
Two more data points. 1. The corrupt, autocratic regime in Tunisia has held one-party power since 1956. Until a couple of weeks ago. And 2. The corrupt, autocratic regime in Egypt has been in power since 1981. But that’s looking shaky, as of this morning.
If events in Tunisia have inspired events in Egypt, what inspired the events in Tunisia?
Hard to say, of course. But perhaps a small nod and a tip of the hat is due to the diabolical neo-cons, and the naive president they conned into trying this absurd gamble on democracy.