Still waiting: can we agree to agree?
Faster than even the most optimistic of neocons ever suspected, the dominoes of the Middle East totter and tremble, poised to fall from dictatorship to democracy.
There's no mistaking the jubilation and the feeing of newfound strength in what used to be called the Arab street. There was no mistaking it on January 30th in Iraq, and there's no mistaking it now in Lebanon, where even the previously anti-American Walid Jumblatt said, "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, eight million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world. The Berlin Wall has fallen."
I have to hand it to Jumblatt. He's done something quite rare: he's revised his previous opinion in the face of new evidence. And he's publically admitted it.
But I'm still waiting. And I'm not alone in that. I'm waiting for my friends, the ones I've had all those arguments with for the past two years over Iraq. I'm not one to gloat, so I haven't brought it up with them, but I'm waiting for just one of them to mention what's happening now, to voice any sort of opinion on it at all.
But it's as though it isn't happening for them. It's as though they aren't reading the papers; as though the Mideast has dropped off their radar screens. I know it's hard to admit you might have been wrong; but surely, in this case, an exception could be made for something so wonderful, so joyous? How can they resist? Remember all that "power to the people" stuff back in the 60s? What is this, if not that?
When I would say to them that there was a possibility Iraq would end up a democracy, and that the thirst for freedom might spread (slowly, I thought) throughout the region, I was called a dreamer. And that was the best thing I was called; ignorant, uninformed, brainwashed, imperialist, neocon (oh, horrors!) were a few of the others. And then, after the tirade, in most cases we had to do the "agree to disagree" thing, in order to preserve our friendship.
Well, I'm just wondering what they think now. Do we still need to agree to disagree? Because I'd love it if we could actually agree to agree. It would be an nice change to hear a little hopefulness from them. Maybe Jumblatt could start a domino effect of his own.