Wednesday, March 02, 2005

A Voice of Reason, Just in Time

Gerard Van Der Leun of the irreplacable American Digest has some advice for people like me, who are infinitely optimistic about the prospect of democracy breaking out all over the Middle East: don't bet the farm just yet.

Over the month of February, the news about freedom and liberty has been especially good. An election in Iraq so triumphant that even the New York Times has been forced to acknowledge it. The continuing destruction of the terrorists in Iraq on a daily basis. Renewed hopes for a final and lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace. Promises of greater freedom in Egypt and even Saudi Arabia from the ossified rulers of those primitive states. Movements of the masses to insist on liberty and freedom in Lebanon. Shake-ups in Syria. The continued reminders of the much-touted youth movement of Iran that's ready to replace the mullahs with MTV. And the fading of the "Arab street" as an operating cliche. All that's left is for Johnny Apple to eat congealed quagmire pie on Meet the Press and my little world will be complete.

All this makes me very happy, very pleased. It is delicious to be right, but even sweeter to say to one's opponents "I told you so." And in the last few days there's no shortage of those who were right about the attractions of liberty and freedom taking a victory lap around the media and the blogosphere with a rising chant of "Neener, neener, neener..."

All this makes me very nervous. It makes me nervous because it brings to mind the very narrow edge on which all this triumphalism is currently based: one successful election made possible by several hundred thousand of the best troops in the world.

He's right, of course, and I'm a little ashamed for not considering the possibility that we all won't ride off into the sunset, happily ever after. I still believe great things are not just possible but likely, but it's better to be prepared for the worst no matter how promising the prospects. I'll try to keep that in mind.

Great essay, read the whole thing.

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