Middle East indebted to Bush
by Salim Mansur
This week's journey of U.S. President George W. Bush to the Middle East – the itinerary beginning with Israel includes visits to the Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt – is greatly significant and yet, in keeping with his temper, a low-keyed affair as the last remaining months of his presidency unfold.
We likely can surmise there is one more visit to the region still to be made by Bush.
This will be a visit to Baghdad with an address to Iraq's democratically elected parliament before Bush takes leave from the White House for his ranch in Crawford, Tex.
When Bush stepped into the Oval Office – a long time ago now it seems on that cold January morning in 2001 – the Arab-Muslim world was furthest from his mind as it was from the minds of most Americans.
But the malignancy of the Middle East, ignored by the West and the previous occupants of the White House, would strike New York City, bringing the Arab-Muslim world's politics of fanatical hate, deep-seated resentment and a mountain of grievances to the shores of the United States.
The Arabs had squandered the 20th century just as they slept through much of the previous four centuries, while the West created a whole new world of science and democracy.
The independence won for the Arabs from the rule of the Ottoman Turks by Britain and France at the end of the First World War eventually became a cruel mockery with a people – despite the resources and goodwill available – incapable of lifting themselves up from the broken ruins of their tribal culture.
This is the root cause of Arab failure, and instead of embracing the modern world by reforming its culture the Arab political class has indulged in blaming others, most particularly Jews and Israel.
George Bush could have remained indifferent to the Arab-Muslim world's malignancy, mouthing pieties as members of the ever fashionable lib-left political class in the West endlessly does, while watching the Arabs sink deeper into the political squalor of their making.
Instead, Bush struck directly at the most rotten core of the Middle East – Iraq, the land of two rivers, choked to death by the vilest of Arab tyrants in recent memory, Saddam Hussein – to give the Arabs an opportunity one more time to make a better future.
Regime change in Baghdad has brought a new Iraq to emerge with American support despite the fanatical opposition of the most backward tribal warriors of the Arab-Muslim world.
Iraqis – Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds – now bear responsibility that comes with freedom to write a new history for Arabs as, for instance, the far more populous and ethnically diverse people of India are doing.
The Arab leaders greeting Bush remain frozen in their hypocrisy, unable to say publicly what they will say privately, being relieved in knowing the United States remains committed to maintaining order and security in the Persian Gulf region.
But free Iraq looms large in the capitals of the Arab states, and if Iraqis keep progressing in freedom their example will be an irresistible attraction for the Arab-Muslim world spread between the Atlantic and the Persian Gulf.
A democratic Iraq is George Bush's formidable legacy, and the Arabs will be talking about him long after his contemporary critics bite the dust and are forgotten.