Ross Mackenzie

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. - Franklin Roosevelt

Doing things they say you can't is one of this life's most delicious aspects.

"They"- the imperious "they" who would rule operative opinion everywhere - disparage the very notion of nincompoop George Bush and America leading a successful crusade on behalf of liberty and democracy across the globe. Yet it's happening.

The too-often grim outcomes of terrorism in Iraq sometimes cloud the bigger picture of liberty on the march. Here's a post-9/11 catalogue, many of the entries quite recent:

- Success in Afghanistan, and the first elections there in 5,000 years.

- In Iraq, (1) astoundingly high turnout in the January elections; (2) in Baghdad's Fardus Square, where Iraqis and U.S. Marines toppled a statue of Saddam, a monument to liberty erected atop the same pedestal; (3) thousands turning out Wednesday to chant "no to terrorism" at the site of a suicide bombing that killed 125 the day before; and - as in Afghanistan - (4) the symbolic liberation of women through their voting for the first time ever.

- Prior to Bush's re-election, Libya renouncing terrorism and giving up its nukes.

- Among the Palestinians, seemingly positive movement (including election of a successor to the essentially self-appointed Arafat), but with the jury still definitely out.

- Elections in Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan (and Kazakhstan soon to come?); local elections in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (men only of course, but the first elections anywhere in Saudi Arabia in four decades); and the promise of elections in - for heaven's sake - Egypt, by the incumbent 76-year-old autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

And . . .

- Lately in Lebanon, partly following the Ukrainian model, thousands in the streets leading to the collapse of the Syrian-based regime there. Said the retreating prime minister, incredibly: "I am keen that the government not stand as an obstacle for those who want good for this country." The demonstrations were triggered by the Syrian-engineered killing of former prime minister (and relentless regime antagonist) Rafik Hariri - his death easily seen in the aftermath as an act of prodigious Syrian miscalculation. Now even France has joined with the U.S. in demanding the withdrawal of Syrian expeditionary forces from Lebanon, where they have languished for 30 years. Next out, possibly: the Iranian-backed anti-Israeli guerrillas known as Hezbollah.

They said none of this could happen, and they are giving no credit to either the United States or President Bush. But consider these wide-ranging comments by participants or close observers:

Ross Mackenzie

Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.

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