It’s too soon to gloat, but I’m going to anyway.
Many of the same people who said that the Iraq War was wrong, stupid, criminal, immoral, Hitlerian, whatever, also told us we just had to keep making deals with Arafat. (Or more accurately, pressuring the Israelis into doing so.) But look what’s happening now that Ol’ Liver Lips is dead.
For starters, Israel is on the diplomatic offensive against Syria:
Shalom and Major General Ze’evi will meet with ambassadors of the European Union countries and countries that currently serve on the United Nations Security Council to present the evidence that Syrian-based groups have been involved in multiple attacks, including the weekend bombing at a beachfront nightclub, which killed four people.
Brigadier General Yossi Kuperwasser, who heads MI’s research department, will make similar presentations in Washington, London and Paris.
Before Arafat’s death, an Israeli diplomatic move could always be countered by a “but what abotu the Palestinians?” gambit. Today, however, the Palestinian Authority isn’t just freely-elected, it’s even taking sides against Syria:
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas angrily accused a “third party” on Saturday of sabotaging the Middle East peace process by orchestrating the suicide bombing on Friday night, as Israel threatened a resumption of targeted killings of militants.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he would not tolerate attacks such as last Friday’s suicide bombing in Israel and reaffirmed his commitment to finding peace.
In an interview with Britain’s Independent newspaper published on Monday, Abbas blamed an unnamed party for sabotaging peace efforts.
“We believe peace is possible now and we are ready to negotiate with Israel to reach a true and lasting peace,” Abbas said ahead of a meeting in London on Tuesday to discuss Palestinian reforms.
“As for the suicide bombing last Friday, such actions will not be tolerated by us as they are against the Palestinian interests.”
“Third party” is code for “Syria.” I had my doubts about Abbas – and it isn’t time yet to break out the party hats – but let’s sound a cheer for free elections, shall we?
Meanwhile, don’t think Syria isn’t feeling the pressure, from Israel and elsewhere:
A half-brother of former Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein has been captured with help from a Syrian government seeking to ward off accusation it is helping Iraqi militants.
Now, we know Syria (along with that secular regime’s allies in Tehran) has been aiding the Iraqi insurency. Yet they just sold out one of the biggest insurgents.
Meanwhile, Egypt is promising free(er) elections, the Saudis are calling for a nuke ban, and even Tmo Friedman is sounding cautiously optimistic about the chances of real reform in the Arab world.
Not one of these events would have been possible if Arafat or Saddam Hussein were still in power. President Bush decided that Arafat wasn’t worth dealing with, and that future progress would have to wait for a freely-elected PA. President Bush decided that big changes in the Middle East weren’t possible until Hussein was dealt with in the most serious way.
It’s still too soon to gloat – all of the progress we’ve seen still could slip away, if we retreat from our principles, from this fight. But looking at the news this week, it’s become obvious that President Bush, and his neocon-warblogger-chickenhawk allies here in the blogosphere were right when we said that Arafat and Saddam had to go.