Friday, November 17, 2006

Glee may be premature, on both sides

Amir Taheri was the executive editor-in-chief of the largest newspaper in Iran during the 1970s. Ever since, he's been writing about the Middle East and Iran for a wide variety of Western papers, as well as the Arab News and the pan-Arab daily Asharq Alawsat. You might say he's well-versed in the region.

Taheri sees the Islamist totalitarian jihadis as jubilant after last week's US election. In fact, as Taheri describes them, our enemies of that ilk from Baghdad to Tehran to Beirut--and everywhere in-between--are probably far more gleeful right now than even the Democrats in Congress. The former view the election as a sign of America's weakness, and are convinced the fix is in for Iraq: it's cut and run time. Showing those films of American helicopters on the roof in Saigon seems awfully prescient for Saddam, who even as he marches off to the gallows may get to shout a triumphant "I told you so!" to his former subjects.

Or maybe not.

Maybe one of the reasons the Democrats aren't feeling so sanguine is that they realize, as Taheri says; it's one of those "be careful what you wish for" things:

Some Democrats may have promised cut-and-run. But, once in power, the party as a whole may realize (to its horror) that, this time, those from whom Americans run away will come after them.

Leaving Iraq precipitously is by no means a foregone conclusion, even with the Democrats in power in Congress. The jihadis make an error if they automatically assume that it is. Although there's no denying that Taheri is correct--this election sends a very bad message regarding American resolve--as he also points out, the Democrats might surprise the Arab world by countermanding that message.

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