George W. Bush: Visionary or just lucky?
A few days ago, I was finishing up my reading of the book The Greatest Story Ever Sold, written by Bush-hating New York Times writer Frank Rich (Penguin Press, 2006). In the Epilogue, Rich writes two scenarios how Bush's Iraq war may end. He went with the second, the negative one, but here is what he wrote for the first, to describe how things would be if Bush's Middle East plans worked out:
"Perhaps future generations will discover that George W. Bush was a visionary that worked a miracle - that by knocking out one thug in the Middle East he set off a domino effect that led to the democratic reform in a region gripped by totalitarianism, tribal hatreds, and radical fundamentalism. If so, he will be among the luckiest players in the history book, and history tells us that sometimes it does pay to be luckier than smart."
Few will claim that the Iraq war directly ignited the current waves of democracy bellowing in the Middle East. Yet few can dispute that Bush - as Rich wrote - "was a visionary" by believing that with Iraq as a democracy, "democratic reform" can come to "a region gripped by totalitarianism, tribal hatreds, and radical fundamentalism."
Does it mean that Egypt will be a democracy in a year from now? Well, I don't know. But if anti-West forces fill the void and take control of Egypt, it does not mean that most Muslims and most Arabs don't want democracy. It just means that there were no competent forces of democracy to take control of the Egyptian government, rocked by calls of its people to have more rights and freedoms. The protests that took place only after Bush was ridiculed by short-sighted writers such as Rich who didn't believe Middle East democracy - following the Iraq War - will happen faster than it took for George Washington to be elected President of a nation that declared its independence more than a decade earlier.