Their Jonathan Freedland writes:
Even so, it cannot be escaped: the US-led invasion of Iraq has changed the calculus in the region. The Lebanese protesters are surely emboldened by the knowledge that Syria is under heavy pressure, with US and France united in demanding its withdrawal. That pressure carries an extra sting if Damascus feels that the latest diplomatic signals – including Tony Blair’s remark yesterday that Syria had had its “chance” but failed to take it and Condoleezza Rice’s declaration that the country was “out of step with where the region is going” – translate crudely as “You’re next”.
Similar thinking is surely at work in the decisions of Iran and Libya on WMD and Saudi Arabia and Egypt on elections. Put simply, President Bush seems like a man on a mission to spread what he calls the “untamed fire of freedom” – and these Arab leaders don’t want to get burned.
This leaves opponents of the Iraq war in a tricky position, even if the PM is not about to rub our faces in the fact. Not only did we set our face against a military adventure which seems, even if indirectly, to have triggered a series of potentially welcome side effects; we also stood against the wider world-view that George Bush represented. What should we say now?
Mr. Freedland has a few rather weak answers. I wonder if even he takes them seriously. He doesn’t sound as if he does. (hat tip: Bruce Wechsler)