As an advocate of that notion of democratic revolution, I am not surprised that the opposing view was proved false. I am surprised only that it was proved false so quickly -- that the voters in Iraq, the people of Lebanon, the women of Kuwait, the followers of Ayman Nour in Egypt would rise so eagerly at the first breaking of the dictatorial "stability" they had so long experienced (and we had so long supported) to claim their democratic rights.
This amazing display has prompted a wave of soul-searching. When a Le Monde editorial titled "Arab Spring" acknowledges "the merit of George W. Bush," when the cover headline of London's The Independent is "Was Bush Right After All?" and when a column in Der Spiegel asks "Could George W. Bush Be Right?" you know that something radical has happened.
It is not just that the ramparts of Euro-snobbery have been breached. Iraq and, more broadly, the Bush doctrine were always more than a purely intellectual matter. The left's patronizing, quasi-colonialist view of the benighted Arabs was not just analytically incorrect. It was morally bankrupt, too.
After all, going back at least to the Spanish Civil War, the left has always prided itself on being the great international champion of freedom and human rights. And yet, when America proposed to remove the man responsible for torturing, gassing and killing tens of thousands of Iraqis, the left suddenly turned into a champion of Westphalian sovereign inviolability.
A leftist judge in Spain orders the arrest of a pathetic, near-senile Gen. Augusto Pinochet eight years after he's left office, and becomes a human rights hero -- a classic example of the left morally grandstanding in the name of victims of dictatorships long gone. Yet for the victims of contemporary monsters still actively killing and oppressing -- Khomeini and his successors, the Assads of Syria and, until yesterday, Hussein and his sons -- nothing. No sympathy. No action. Indeed, virulent hostility to America's courageous and dangerous attempt at rescue.
The international left's concern for human rights turns out to be nothing more than a useful weapon for its anti-Americanism. Jeane Kirkpatrick pointed out this selective concern for the victims of U.S. allies (such as Chile) 25 years ago. After the Cold War, the hypocrisy continues. For which Arab people do European hearts burn? The Palestinians. Why? Because that permits the vilification of Israel -- an outpost of Western democracy and, even worse, a staunch U.S. ally. Championing suffering Iraqis, Syrians and Lebanese offers no such satisfaction. Hence, silence.
Until now. Now that the real Arab street has risen to claim rights that the West takes for granted, the left takes note. It is forced to acknowledge that those brutish Americans led by their simpleton cowboy might have been right. It has no choice. It is shamed. A Lebanese, amid a sea of a million other Lebanese, raises a placard reading "Thank you, George W. Bush," and all that Euro-pretense, moral and intellectual, collapses.
YES, YES, YES.