And Afghanistan isn't turning out as many had hoped. The U.S. State Department reports "there is not a single, public Christian church left in Afghanistan," the last one having been razed in March 2010. In March 2011 a Congressional Research Service report showed that Afghanistan has cost American taxpayers more than $440 billion (and counting), 1,700 lives (and counting) and the country is as intolerant of any faith other than Islam as when it was run by the Taliban. This is progress?
If real progress is to be made in Libya toward representative democracy, women's rights, religious pluralism, economic stability and diplomatic cooperation with the West, the first step must be to rewrite the National Transition Council's draft constitution. As I wrote in August following Gadhafi's ouster, Article 1 tells us all where the rebel leadership wants to take the country: "Islam is the religion of the State and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Sharia)."
Should Libya's new leaders approve a constitution without that clause, if they keep the Muslim Brotherhood at bay -- which is now active in other Arab nations experiencing upheaval -- and if they turn toward the West for more than economic aid, embracing the most fundamental of human rights, I will move from pessimism to guarded optimism. Confidence isn't warranted when a headline in the London Daily Telegraph says, "Interim (Libyan) ruler unveils more radical than expected plans for Islamic law." Than expected? What are they drinking?
I remain a skeptic that Libya is capable of heading in a direction that improves the lives of its people, aligns itself with the U.S. and our interests and lessens tensions in the region.
But I am open to evidence to the contrary, if it's not based on wishful thinking.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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