Monday, March 7, 2005

The Year of the Vote

Though March is too early to start declaring 2005 the year of anything yet, I hope this year will be remembered as the Year of the Vote in the Arab world.

Last October saw national voting in Afghanistan, a country previously invaded by the Soviets, then oppressed by theocratic thugs the Taliban.

Early January saw Palestinians voting in the first truly free election made possible by the death of the most significant block to peace with Israel: Yasser Arafat.

Late January saw hugely successful voting across an Iraq free from Saddam's threats of torture and death, contrary to the dire predictions of those who wanted to delay that vote and give terrorists more time to consolidate their reign of fear. (Interestingly, the Iraqis actually voted for their representatives to a constitutional convention. The product of that convention likely will call for a new vote to elect the actual representatives of the government it defines.)

The Saudi ruling family even allowed limited, male-only voting in February local municipal elections.

Egypt's Mubarak has loosened his restrictions on allowing political opposition in his country's upcoming elections.

The Lebanese have found a new assertiveness, calling for Syria to evacuate its occupying troops. The Syrian puppet regime in Beirut has resigned.

None of these advances for democracy were even thought possible by proponents of the old status quo, never-ending negotiations approach to Middle East peace that had failed the region for more than 35 years. Despots understand only one language: the language of force. It was high time that we quit pussy-footing around the true impediments to progress in the Middle East. It was time that the leftist racism of low expectations that considered Arabs not ready for democracy was finally disproven. It was time that the aspirations of regular folks trying to make ends meet while staying below the death squad radar was recognized.

The Bush doctrine of domino democracy (and the fortuitous death of Arafat and it's flawless handling by the Israelis) has provided the tipping point to a lasting, peaceful realignment and redevelopment of the region.

No comments: