Austin Bay

A few liberals like Shadi Hamdi of the Brookings Institution and Jackson Diehl of The Washington Post are noticing, albeit belatedly. In an article published last week, Hamdi wrote: "It is worth noting that Bush's short-lived embrace of Mideast democratic reform ... did not appear to hurt the Arab reform movement, and, if anything, did the opposite. This is something that reformers themselves reluctantly admit." A "Bush nostalgia" has appeared "in Arab opposition circles."

Diehl confesses that in his Washington echo chamber, Iraq is regarded as a waste or "folly." However, Iraq "looks a lot like what Syria, and much of the rest of the Arab Middle East, might hope to be." No dictator, no sectarian minority repressing the majority. Diehl concludes, "The Arab Spring ... is making the invasion of Iraq look more worthy -- and necessary -- than it did a year ago."

Defeating the militants and fostering democratic modernization requires U.S. involvement. Yet Hamdi quotes Arab sources as saying democracy is "15th" on Barack Obama's list of concerns. Hamdi argues that there is a bitter paradox liberals just don't get: "The Arab revolutions ... make clear that there is no replacement for American leadership, even from the perspective of those thought to be the most anti-American."

Austin Bay

Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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