Rich Tucker

Also, because we?re promoting democracy in the region, Palestinians recently went to the polls, Iranians are getting restless with their ruling religious leaders and Israel?s cabinet has agreed to hand over sections of the Gaza Strip.

Of course, The New York Times isn?t alone in its concerns about ?stability.? German President Horst Koehler recently declared that the United States is offering too much freedom to the Middle East.

?Youths in the slums of Karachi, Cairo, Lagos or Jakarta are constantly confronted with what initially seems a fascinating lifestyle, the epitome of freedom,? Koehler told The Washington Post?s Fred Hiatt. ?But in many respects this lifestyle is quite incompatible with their own cultural norms and values. The result is a potent mix of fascination, frustration and rejection, which in many cases may generate hatred and violence.?

Let?s road test that idea. No country in the world is as stable as Saudi Arabia. Yet 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, not from supposedly unstable Pakistan or Indonesia (where, by the way, at least some form of democracy exists). Clearly, stability in the region isn?t making us safer.

But democracy can. Democracy will eventually serve as an outlet for any ?frustration? or ?rejection? that Muslims feel. If Pres. Koehler doubts that, he should just ask Sen. John Kerry.

President Bush recently outlined his vision during a Q & A session with young Germans. ?Our foreign policy is based upon this notion that the world is a better place when people are able to realize that which is embedded in their soul,? he told them. ?Free societies are peaceful societies. Democratic societies don?t attack each other.?

Bashar Assad knows that, just as he knows he?s got nothing to fear from a democratic Lebanon -- and everything to fear from the instability it?ll bring to his Syrian fiefdom.

Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for