The Rosett Report

Bush Was Right About That Democracy Thing

What’s the most e-mailed article right now on Al-Jazeera’s English language web site?

It’s an opinion piece about Iraq’s elections, headlined “Iraq: An example for the region.”

Someone out there is very interested in that proposition — actually, a great many someones are so interested that this article (which conveys praise of Bush, and a faith in democracy, that are both much at odds with a lot of Al-Jazeera’s usual coverage) has been the #1 most emailed article on Al-Jazeera for five straight days.

True, this is Al-Jazeera’s English language web site, not the Arabic — nonetheless, folks inclined to log on to Al-Jazeera (this will give you an idea of its huge TV footprint) are clearly taking a good look at this piece, and sending it around.

The author is Richard Grenell, who served during the George W. Bush presidency as spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations –working under four ambassadors, including John Bolton. Grenell makes no apologies for Bush’s 2003 ouster of Saddam Hussein. Rather, he celebrates it as ushering in an era of “free and fair elections” in Iraq, and says that while Iraq’s young democracy is “messy, incomplete and imperfect,” it is also “currently the envy of the Arab world.” He argues that Iraqis are lucky they had the backing of Bush, and that if Obama had become president earlier, with his wish to cut and run, it would have been a disaster for Iraq.

Today, writes Grenell, Iraq’s March 7 election reminds us that “Bush’s vision for democracy in the Middle East is beginning to unfold with the consecutive democratic elections in Iraq and Afghanistan.” He closes with the questions: “Which Arab country will be next? Who will start the long, expensive and bloody process of bringing freedom and democracy to their people?”

If Al-Jazeera’s web site readers find that commentary and those questions interesting enough to make them the most emailed on the site for five straight days, sounds like one more sign that Bush was right about that craving for democracy –yes, even in Al Jazeera’s main stomping grounds of the Middle East.