At the very least, in the face of passionate hostility at home and abroad, George Bush has proved himself a brave and determined man who has staked his presidency on getting democratic momentum underway in the Middle East. Even if in the short run he fails-which many of us are not yet ready to concede-some Muslims in the future will be able to remember that in a difficult time an American president, at heavy cost, cared about their sufferings, their natural rights, and the better angels beckoning in their dreams. He held before them a democratic standard by which they will forever measure other political movements and other leaders. ~Michael Novak
I’m sure that’s what “some Muslims” in the future will remember, rather than the mass death and destruction that he brought. If my country were destroyed because of the decisions of a foreign leader, I know I would look back fondly on his high-minded rhetoric and remember how much he cared about me and my rights. Unfortunately, such has been the democracy “experiment” in Iraq that these Muslims in the future will use the “democratic standard” to measure all other movements and come to the conclusion that the other movements are at least not associated with the complete ruin of their countries. Mr. Bush’s accomplishment in Iraq is to bind together the idea of democracy with the reality of majoritarian tyranny and hell on earth. More than anyone, I suspect that he has convinced tens of millions of Muslims that this “democracy” business is not worth the slaughter and mayhem, and has probably confirmed in the minds of more than a few that the only way forward to a just order is through Islam. He will have managed to convince one of the most repressed and unfree regions on earth that “freedom and democracy” are disastrous political solutions for their woes. That is a not inconsiderable achievement.