March 10, 2005

I SAID NOT TO GLOAT, but at first it sounds as if Jeff Jacoby wasn’t listening:

The Axis of Weasel is crying uncle, and much of the chorus is singing from the same songsheet.

Listen to Claus Christian Malzahn in the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel: ”Could George W. be right?” And Guy Sorman in France’s Le Figaro: ”And if Bush was right?” And NPR’s Daniel Schorr in The Christian Science Monitor: ”The Iraq effect? Bush may have had it right.” And London’s Independent, in a Page 1 headline on Monday: ”Was Bush right after all?”

Even Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s ”Daily Show” and an indefatigable Bush critic, has learned the new lyrics. ”Here’s the great fear that I have,” he said recently. ”What if Bush . . . has been right about this all along? I feel like my world view will not sustain itself and I may . . . implode.”

For those of us in the War Party, by contrast, these are heady days. If you’ve agreed with President Bush all along that the way to fight the cancer of Islamist terrorism is with the chemotherapy of freedom and democracy, the temptation to issue I-told-you-so’s can be hard to resist.

And yet, I think it should be resisted at this point, and Jacoby actually agrees:

It is being called an ”Arab Spring,” and Bush’s critics are right to give him credit for helping to bring it about. What his allies need to bear in mind is that cracks in the ice of tyranny and misrule don’t always lead to liberation.

In 1989, a global wave of democratic fervor brought tens of millions of anticommunist demonstrators into the streets. In Eastern Europe, that wave shattered the Berlin Wall, freed the captive nations, and eventually ended the Cold War. In China, by contrast, it was stopped by the tanks of Tiananmen Square and the spilling of much innocent blood.

”At last, clearly and suddenly, the thaw has begun,” said President Bush on Tuesday. Let us all pray that it continues and that the long winter of Arab discontent is finally giving way to a summer of liberty and human rights. There will be time enough for gloating if it does.

We’re just beginning with this. Don’t get cocky.

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