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March 02, 2005

Stampede: Now the Guardian UK?

And by Jonathan Freedland, no less.

For those of you who aren't familiar with this, err, specimen's work, he's a viciously anti-American leftist hack.

Ilbis tips to this piece:

The war's silver lining

We need to face up to the fact that the Iraq invasion has intensified pressure for democracy in the Middle East

Jonathan Freedland

Tony Blair is not gloating. He could - but he prefers to appear magnanimous in what he hopes is victory. In our Guardian interview yesterday, he was handed a perfect opportunity to crow. He was talking about what he called "the ripple of change" now spreading through the Middle East, the slow, but noticeable movement towards democracy in a region where that commodity has long been in short supply. I asked him whether the stone in the water that had caused this ripple was the regime change in Iraq.

He could have said yes, insisting that events had therefore proved him right and the opponents of the 2003 war badly wrong. But he [graciously] did not.
...

But if he had wanted to brag and claim credit - boasting that the toppling of Saddam Hussein had set off a benign chain reaction - he would have had plenty of evidence to call on.

He then recites all the countries of the Middle East now moving towards either freedom, democracy, or peace. I won't bore you-- you know what the globe looks like. It's round and it contains a lot of orange and yellow and green countries.

Once in a while a pink one, although I'm sure there's always some hurt feelings about that.

And then he blah, blahs his disclaimer that none of this is necessarily due to, or speeded by, the historic elections of 30 January.

Let's skip through that wordcount-padding hedging.

Even so, it cannot be escaped: the US-led invasion of Iraq has changed the calculus in the region. The Lebanese protesters are surely emboldened by the knowledge that Syria is under heavy pressure, with US and France united in demanding its withdrawal. That pressure carries an extra sting if Damascus feels that the latest diplomatic signals - including Tony Blair's remark yesterday that Syria had had its "chance" but failed to take it and Condoleezza Rice's declaration that the country was "out of step with where the region is going" - translate crudely as "You're next".

Similar thinking is surely at work in the decisions of Iran and Libya on WMD and Saudi Arabia and Egypt on elections. Put simply, President Bush seems like a man on a mission to spread what he calls the "untamed fire of freedom" - and these Arab leaders don't want to get burned.

This leaves opponents of the Iraq war in a tricky position, even if the PM is not about to rub our faces in the fact. Not only did we set our face against a military adventure which seems, even if indirectly, to have triggered a series of potentially welcome side effects; we also stood against the wider world-view that George Bush represented. What should we say now?

First, we ought to admit that the dark cloud of the Iraq war may have carried a silver lining. We can still argue that the war was wrong-headed, illegal, deceitful and too costly of human lives - and that its most important gain, the removal of Saddam, could have been achieved by other means. But we should be big enough to concede that it could yet have at least one good outcome.

Second, we have to say that the call for freedom throughout the Arab and Muslim world is a sound and just one - even if it is a Bush slogan and arguably code for the installation of malleable regimes. Put starkly, we cannot let ourselves fall into the trap of opposing democracy in the Middle East simply because Bush and Blair are calling for it. Sometimes your enemy's enemy is not your friend.

Um, that last sentence would seem to mean that Mr. Freedland is just twigging on to the possibility that Al Qaeda and brutal and backwards ME regimes are not necessarily his "friends" just because they're Bush's (his enemy's) enemies.

But let us not be churlish. That was a pretty manful admission. That had to sting.

George Bush, Cowboy, is finally roping up these doggies and driving the herd home. Yee-how!

Correction: I initially said that Lileks had fisked one of this guy's sneering pieces about Georgia. Well, it wasn't Freedland -- it was a Deadwood named Matthew Engle (oh, what a giveaway!) -- and it was actually about Alabama.

See-Dubya tips me to the article; it's here, and it's worth reading. It's hysterical.

None of this is related to Jonathan Freedland, really, except both of these mutants work for the Guardian, and both hate you. Yes, you.

Here's the part that still sticks out in my mind:

Engle, being all pissy about the Olive Garden he's eating at in Birmingham, Alabama: And from the Olive Garden it does seem very distant. Indeed, the whole messy and diverse concept of Europe seems very distant. Around Birmingham, there is nothing but miles and miles of Alabama.

Lileks: Apparently around Birmingham England, there is nothing but miles and miles of Belgium, Thailand and the Antarctic Ice Shelf.

Ohhhhh... snap!


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posted by Ace at 08:34 PM

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