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Published: Saturday, 6/25/2005

The Bush doctrine

SECRETARY of State Condoleezza Rice raised eyebrows when she criticized the human rights record of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in a visit to Cairo Monday.

"We are all concerned for the future of Egypt's reforms when peaceful supporters of democracy - men and women - are not free from violence," she said.

Ms. Rice went on to criticize the human rights record in Saudi Arabia, the next stop on her Middle East tour.

After Ms. Rice linked Syria's "long and continued presence" in Lebanon to the assassination of an anti-Syrian Lebanese politician, Syrian state radio said Wednesday America's plan for the Middle East "is no longer a secret."

"The plan which was launched with the U.S. war in Iraq is continuing today in Lebanon," Radio Damascus said.

Indeed it is. President Bush's strategy for winning the war on terror is obvious, but sometimes the obvious must be repeated over and over before people pay attention.

America's enemies are also enemies of freedom and democracy. Our enemies are our enemies mostly because they fear we might bring freedom and democracy to their neck of the woods. So Mr. Bush made a conscious decision to ally the United States with freedom and democracy the world over.

History is the tale of one war after another. Dictatorships fight other dictatorships, dictatorships attack democracies. But democracies don't fight other democracies. (The last time two democracies squared off was in the War of 1812.)

So how is the Bush doctrine doing?

The chairman of the committee drafting Iraq's new constitution told the newspaper al Sabah Monday the document was 80 percent written. "The final draft will come out with an Iraqi spirit and there are actually little differences to debate," Humam Hammodi said.

"Bottom line, the people won the war when they said their word on the 30th of January and since then, many of the hesitant elements have recognized the winning side and began joining it while the barking dogs will have nothing left to chew on but their bitter defeat," said the Iraqi web logger Omar.

Lebanon concluded its first fair election in decades last weekend, and the mullahs in Iran held a sham one. The results of both contain good news for the United States.

In Lebanon, an anti-Syrian coalition won a solid majority of seats in Lebanon's parliament (although not, alas, the two-thirds majority required to oust the puppet president Syria installed). The victory was made possible by the withdrawal, in April, of the Syrian troops who had occupied Lebanon since 1976.

The Syrian withdrawal was forced by the "Cedar Revolution" that was sparked by the murder by Syrian agents of popular Sunni Muslim politician Rafik Hariri in February, and inspired by the success of the Iraqi elections the previous month.

The withdrawal is only partial, since many Syrian intelligence operatives remain in Lebanon, and likely were responsible for the assassinations of George Hawi this week and an anti-Syrian journalist June 2.

But it has been a major loss of prestige for the Baathist regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and an even bigger blow to Syrian pocketbooks, since much of Syria's meager wealth consists of what it has looted from Lebanon.

The democratic pressures Mr. Bush has unleashed in the Middle East are responsible for the modest reforms Mr. Assad announced at a Baath party congress earlier this month. Mr. Assad, of course, doesn't want real democracy for Syrians, but hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue.

Mr. Bush has put democracy on the march in the Middle East. It is making America and the world safer.



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