Traveling in Morocco, Mideast columnist Lee Smith takes the temperature of the region today in Tablet Magazine. The mood has been altered by two events of the Past week: Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution—”for the first time in Arab history a people rose up to send their ruler packing,” as Smith summarizes it—and Secretary of State Clinton’s speech in Qatar calling on Arab leaders to liberalize. “What is more depressing,” Smith writes,
is that while we believe poverty, hopelessness, and despair may pave the way for extremist elements and terrorist groups, we know that democracy has empowered them where repression sidelines them. Even avid Bush partisans cannot ignore the fact that the gospel of democratization propagated by Bush and his secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, during the president’s second term helped bring Hamas to power in Gaza and strengthened Hezbollah’s hand in Lebanon.
There is a reason why a famous Arab dictum has it that 100 years of tyranny is preferable to one day of chaos. It is meant to remind us of the nature of man the political animal who cannot foresee the consequences of his actions.