Sunday, March 2, 2008

Five Lessons About The Mideast

There is an important article in the Washington Post by Robin Wright, Why I Have New Hope for The Mideast. She tells of her journey the past year across the Middle East where she found surprising changes afoot.

"In 2006, three years after the Iraq invasion, I got so tired of the divisive debate in Washington about the future of the Middle East that I went back to the region I've covered since 1973 and listened instead to the people who live there. After traveling for the better part of a year from Rabat to Tehran, I came away surprisingly buoyed."

Wright found five lessons, that illustrate the reason she has "New Hope for The Mideast." I will tease you with them; the evidence she found, is waiting for you to discover in the article.

Two decades ago when I roamed the region, I sought out clandestine cells as the barometer of opposition. Now I look for computer nerds -- the pajamahedeen, or pajama warriors, who wield computers instead of roadside bombs. They personify Lesson 1 in the changing Middle East: The opposition is more open, ambitious, imaginative and stubborn than ever. And the YouTube generation has become a whole new political class.

Lesson 2: There is no longer a single truth, in either ideology or religion, and challenges to the status quo are coming from unlikely quarters.

Lesson 3: Old Cold War enemies have become unexpected allies -- and the pluckiest agitators for change.

Lesson 4: Watch out for the soccer moms.

Lesson 5: Pay attention to the moderate Islamists; many are seeking compromise.

She concludes that:

Democracy is about differences, which are bound to explode once disparate sides of society are free to speak and make demands. Opening new space also does not guarantee who or what will fill it. And all the factors contributing to change make the region susceptible to greater turmoil.

Yet what I found most inspiring in my travels was not the dreams that the outside world has for the people of the Middle East. It was the lofty goals they have set for themselves, and begun -- only begun -- to act on.

This article, along with an article linked in an earlier post, where Angelina Jolie Staying to Help in Iraq writes about her recent trip to Iraq, are signs of hope. The ill-executed plan to rebuild Iraq almost destroyed the hope for real change that is now developing across the Middle East. Fueled by the bottom-up efforts of people, connectivity, like water, is seeping into every corner of the globe.

Another report was filed today, by, Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers entitled, More "Dispatches from Front". His voice adds another prospective on the efforts of the men and women of our Armed Forces and the mission they intrepidly pursue.

In the latest postscript to this story, Tom Barnett offers his take on Robin Wright's story,The ultimate legacy of Bush's "big bang" strategy.

No comments: