January 27, 2004


Nathan Scharansky told us how the prisoners in the Soviet Gulag would pass tiny scraps of paper with bits of the speeches of Ronald Reagan. Amazingly, Reagan's message of freedom and hope flowed by a sort of capillary action to the most remote and guarded corners of the globe. And the sophisticates and intellectuals who scorned him...what desperate people ever clung to their words? Who remembers them? What torch of liberty did they light?

Now it's happening again. Once again the theorists and "power-to-the-people" types are frothing with contempt at the thought of American values and freedom contaminating the world. And once again a president's speeches cannot be walled away from desperate people...

This is from a column, in awkward but sincere English, by Walid Phares:

...But beyond these two liberated countries, other civil societies expressed their support to the State of the Union. In a sense, it was their state of misery acknowledged in Washington. Students and reformist in Iran cheered. Opposition in Syria and Lebanon breathed better. Southern Sudanese and Nubians reinforced their will. Berbers and liberal seculars in Algeria clapped hands. And from the deepest underground of activism, dissident web sites, with writers around the Arab world, including women in Saudi Arabia, started to count the days. In short: the lowest layers in the region's make-up received their state-of-affairs with the voice of the most powerful man on Earth, the President of the United States.

How ironic. Inside Byzantium (read Washington's beltway), the debate had no respite. It is still about "where are the WMDs?" and "what are we doing in Iraq?" But down-under, in what will become the future generations of the entire Middle East, Shiites, Kurds, liberal Sunni, democratic Arabs and oppressed minorities, women and students are reading President Bush's speech in disbelief. "Who among our own Presidents-for-life and Fundamentalist Monarchs have ever mentioned the mass graves and our vanished human rights?" Let it come from the American President. And if he is not serious, it doesn't matter. What matters is that the Truth was said."�� This is from the underground chat rooms.��� The people have hope...

This is a good time to be alive. And American. And not a Copperhead. And I just now recollected something that happened during the Afghanistan Campaign. At one point we were bombing near the Iranian border. And just across the border, Iranians were painting arrows on the roofs of their houses. Pointing towards Tehran.

"Byzantium." Good term.

Posted by John Weidner at January 27, 2004 8:18 PM
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