As noted by many others, today’s must-read is David Ignatius’ WaPo column. The oft-quoted jaw-dropper:
“It’s strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq,” explains Jumblatt. “I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world.” Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. “The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it.”
The speaker, Walid Jumlatt, was up until quite recently a major purveyor of anti-American Arabist conspiracy theorizing, which makes his current stance and statements all the more exhilirating. If we can reach people who used to say stuff like this, there’s more than hope: there’s fundamental progress.
I’m extremely encouraged by the non-sectarian nature of the Lebanese protests. These don’t strike me as the kind of people who’d look at Iran’s mullocracy and say, “Yep, we’d like to have that here.” Lebanon was at one time by far the most tolerant and pluralistic Arab nation on the planet, as well as the only Arab country with something like a functional democracy. If there are enough Lebanese left who remember those days, and want them back…