Friday, February 18, 2005

Change in the Middle East

In a February 14th piece for National Review Online, Michael Ledeen discusses the wave of democratic change sweeping the Middle East and the world. As he points out, it is vital that America do what we can to foster this process:

It would be an error of enormous proportions if, on the verge of a revolutionary transformation of the Middle East, we backed away from this historic mission. It would be doubly tragic if we did it because of one of two possible failures of vision: insisting on focusing on Iraq alone, and viewing military power as the prime element in our revolutionary strategy. Revolution often comes from the barrel of a gun, but not always. Having demonstrated our military might, we must now employ our political artillery against the surviving terror masters. The great political battlefield in the Middle East is, as it has been all along, Iran, the mother of modern terrorism, the creator of Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, and the prime mover of Hamas. When the murderous mullahs fall in Tehran, the terror network will splinter into its component parts, and the jihadist doctrine will be exposed as the embodiment of failed lies and misguided messianism.

The instrument of their destruction is democratic revolution, not war, and the first salvo in the political battle of Iran is national referendum. Let the Iranian people express their desires in the simplest way possible: "Do you want an Islamic republic?" Send Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel to supervise the vote. Let the contending parties compete openly and freely, let newspapers publish, let radios and televisions broadcast, fully supported by the free nations. If the mullahs accept this gauntlet, I have every confidence that Iran will be on the path to freedom within months. If, fearing a massive rejection from their own people, the tyrants of Tehran reject a free referendum and reassert their repression, then the free nations will know it is time to deploy the full panoply of pressure to enable the Iranians to gain their freedom.

The time is now. Faster, please.


No, the tyrants in Tehran and elsewhere are unlikely to go quietly. As shown by this week's murder of Lebanese politician Rafik Hariri, which was probably done with Syrian complicity, the region's dictatorships will use any means to cling to their ever-more tenuous hold on power. However, we must not let up. The sacrifices we have made in Iraq have been rewarded by the success of the recent elections in that country, and the impact these elections have had throughout the region. We must do whatever possible to ensure that this momentum continues. The Middle East's corrupt dictatorships and autocracies cannot last. If we do not seek to foster our brand of change in the Arab world, we can rest assured that bin Laden and Zarqawi will pursue their own vision for the region.


Post a Comment

<< Home