Proceed with CautionMarch 8th, 2005 at 9:47 am by Preston Taylor Holmes
I’ve noticed quite a bit of gloating on the right and gnashing of teeth on the left in the wake of recent events in the Islamofascist cesspool of the Middle-East. Along the way, I’ve wondered if any of the gloating or gnashing is justified.
On the surface, one might conclude that we are living in historic times – an era of never-before-seen upheaval in a region that has been ruled by theocratic monarchies that beat their populations down with the koran in one hand and a machete in the other.
Don’t get me wrong, the Iraqi elections were an unquestionable show of raw courage on the part of the Iraqi people. The Lebanese revolt against the pro-Syrian government and their demands for Syrian withdrawal also took some serious testicular fortitude. Elections in Saudi Arabia and faux-elections in Egypt are nice baby-steps. However, something hasn’t seemed right to me about all this and I couldn’t put my finger on it.
This morning, I stumbled upon this Daniel Pipes column, “A Neo-Con’s Caution,” at FrontPage Magazine that helped me clarify my dread.
Pipes, a long-time Middle-East scholar, has had the same apprehension about these events, but expresses it far better than I could.
- On Jan. 9, Palestinian voters trooped to the polls and chose Mahmoud Abbas, who proclaims his intent to end the armed struggle against Israel.
- On Jan. 30, 8 million Iraqi voters braved bombs and bullets to cast their ballots.
- On Feb. 10, Saudi Arabia held its first-ever municipal elections, a crack in the royal familyâ€™s absolute authority.
- On Feb. 26, Egyptâ€™s president Husni Mubarak suddenly announced that the forthcoming presidential election will involve candidates other than himself.
- On Feb. 28, tens of thousands of demonstrators in Beirut forced the resignation of the pro-Syrian government of Prime Minister Omar Karami. If the Lebanese succeed in winning their independence, it could spell the end of Bashar Assad and the Baathist regime in Damascus.
These developments find some neo-conservatives in a state of near-euphoria. Rich Lowry of the National Review calls them â€œa marvelous thing.â€? Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post writes that â€œWe are at the dawn of a glorious, delicate, revolutionary moment in the Middle East.â€?
I too welcome these developments, but more warily. Having been trained in Middle Eastern history makes me perhaps more aware of what can go wrong:
- Yes, Mahmoud Abbas wishes to end the armed struggle against Israel but his call for a greater jihad against the â€œZionist enemyâ€? points to his intending another form of war to destroy Israel.
- The Iraqi elections are bringing Ibrahim Jaafari, a pro-Iranian Islamist, to power.
- Likewise, the Saudi elections proved a boon for the Islamist candidates.
- Mubarakâ€™s promise is purely cosmetic; but should real presidential elections one day come to Egypt, Islamists will probably prevail there too.
- Removing Syrian control in Lebanon could well lead to Hezbollah, a terrorist group, becoming the dominant power there.
- Eliminating the hideous Assad dynasty could well bring in its wake an Islamist government in Damascus.
So, while there are plenty of reasons for optimism, this is still a region that could vote itself right back into disaster. I guess we should just cross our fingers.