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Surprised? (You shouldn't be)
Tech Central Station ^ | 3/13/05 | Pejman Yousefzadeh

Posted on 12/15/2005 9:08:03 PM PST by Valin

The night the Berlin Wall came down, I was glued to the television coverage and watched ABC's Prime Time Live engage in real-time reporting of the breach of the wall and the spread of democracy to Eastern Europe. Sam Donaldson -- who had served as the White House correspondent during the Reagan Administration -- was one of the co-hosts of the broadcast, and at one point during the coverage, he had a chance to interview his old rhetorical sparring partner -- former President Ronald Reagan.

Donaldson was warm and gracious to the former President as they both watched history be made. Several times during the interview, Donaldson credited President Reagan for having worked to set up the conditions for the fall of the Wall and the commensurate collapse of communism. Donaldson also spoke to the amazement that many people felt at seeing the Berlin Wall finally breached. Surely, he seemed to indicate, no one expected to see the eventual destruction of the Cold War order and the victory of the forces of freedom and democracy in this twilight struggle. Judging from Donaldson's questions and the tone and premise implicit in those questions, the decision by Eastern Europeans to agitate for their freedom and take their destinies into their own hands sprang out of the blue and was an entirely unanticipated phenomenon.

President Reagan entertained all of this commentary and questioning, and then, at the end of the interview, he asked for a little extra time to say something. The former President freely admitted that the events going on in Eastern Europe were momentous. But he asked why it was that anyone should be surprised that a people enslaved for over four decades should want to agitate for their freedom. The surprising thing was not that people wanted to be free. Rather, it was that they were enslaved in the first place.

As always, the great liberator cut right to the heart of matters. With the fall of the Berlin Wall still blessedly fresh in our hearts and minds, and with Reagan's bracing perspective to aid and assist us, we should now turn our attention to the Middle East and ask why anyone is surprised that the people of Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq should opt and fight for their freedom.

Sectarian dictators in the Middle East try to get their people to buy into the belief that existence is merely the gateway to all kinds of burdens and oppression, and that such oppression can be avoided if only the populace will sacrifice its inherent interest in freedom and liberty for safety and security from the forces of oppression -- forces that respond to the commands of those very sectarian dictators. Meanwhile, the region's religious totalitarians try to convince their people that life on earth is not worth living at all. Rather, people should focus on making their lives as short as possible, and using those lives to commit terrorist acts that supposedly will earn them God's favor.

But the agitation for democracy that is currently going on in the Middle East is upsetting these authoritarian and totalitarian attempts to brainwash and intimidate their people. These Middle Eastern democrats belief that the quality of their present lives matter, that they -- and not a gang of ruthless dictators -- should be the ones who determine the shape and direction of their lives. Whether they are seeking the institution of liberty and freedom in the first instance, or demonstrating against the terrorists determined to combat any efforts to bring freedom to the Middle East, the quality of present day existence matters to these Middle Eastern democrats and their emboldening is shaking the very foundations of the dictatorships that for decades have worked to crush their hopes.

Of course, the people of the Middle East have been emboldened to fight back against the dictators of the region by American efforts to oust both the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. Lebanese militant leader Walid Jumblatt -- who in the past was known for his vehemently anti-American statements -- directly credits the removal of Saddam Hussein and the successful Iraqi elections for a transitional government with having inspired the movement for democracy across the Middle East. In Lebanon, pro-democracy demonstrators greeted the attempts of Syrian President Bashar Assad to offer half-measures designed to placate demands for a Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon by taunting him with slogans like "Bush sends his greetings!" -- a clear reference to the possibility that the United States may undertake to free the Lebanese people via military power if Syria does not withdraw. While there is almost no chance of such a thing happening, it is more than a little noteworthy that the Lebanese demonstrators seem gleeful at the prospect of American liberation -- or at the very least willing and clever enough to use the threat of American military might to force Syria to fully withdraw from Lebanon. And Assad seems terrified -- in a recent comment to the Turkish press, Assad asked his interviewer to "Please send this message: I am not Saddam Hussein. I want to cooperate." He should want to cooperate; the international coalition against Assad includes states like Saudi Arabia -- which historically has been more than willing to cooperate with the region's thugs and murderers so long as its own survival was ensured. And now, with both international forces and domestic upheaval threatening to transform Middle Eastern political and social institutions, the United States has decided to augment its support of Iranian democratic reformers as well; thereby increasing the creative tension in the region that may lead to genuine liberalization in the Middle East as a whole.

But in the end, we should remember that the fight to help Middle Eastern democrats is aided most all by the deeply-rooted desire of a long-captive people to break the bonds that have shackled them for generations, and to achieve the freedom that so many of us take for granted. And as President Reagan advised us, we should stop being surprised and astonished that people all over the world want to be free. Denials of liberty are social and political anomalies that should be eradicated to the greatest degree possible. To the extent that the international system is capable of it, it should suffer tyrannies with the same degree of patience and forbearance human beings employ to suffer diseases.

And if you are not astonished by the refusal of an individual to suffer a personal disease, then you shouldn't be astonished by the refusal of an entire region to suffer the disease of tyranny. Call the events in the Middle East "thrilling," if you wish. Call them "wonderful," "splendid," "encouraging," "hopeful" and "promising." Just don't call them "surprising." There is no surprise to be had at all.

TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: iraq; iraqielections
In going thought some old bookmarks, I came across this and thought it appropriate given what happened today in Iraq.
1 posted on 12/15/2005 9:08:04 PM PST by Valin
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To: Valin

Thanks. Good post.

2 posted on 12/15/2005 9:10:55 PM PST by Jet Jaguar
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To: Valin
Very good. I tend to lean towards the idea that because of Islam itself the ME might have a tougher time of it.

But, my hope and predictions are that the next generation, the children in Iraq and Afghanistan will rise to the occasion.
3 posted on 12/15/2005 9:12:54 PM PST by roses of sharon
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To: Valin

Good post!

A lady who was a friend of my roommate's told my roommate back then that she was watching news footage of the Berlin Wall being dismantled by the crowds and saw one of her cousins sitting on top of the wall playing his guitar. No way to verify this for sure, but I always thought that was cool.

4 posted on 12/15/2005 9:17:30 PM PST by Theresawithanh (You'll get me to stop posting on FR when you wrench my laptop from my cold, dead fingers!)
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To: Theresawithanh

Indeed! 6 degrees of seperation

5 posted on 12/15/2005 9:23:34 PM PST by Valin (Purple Fingers Rule!)
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To: Valin; Tolik; neverdem

some good thinks here

6 posted on 12/15/2005 9:25:46 PM PST by King Prout (many accuse me of being overly literal... this would not be a problem if many were not under-precise)
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To: Valin
Excellent post as always Valin.

Keep 'em coming.


knews hound

Latest Article "The Rope a Dope Gambit"
7 posted on 12/15/2005 9:33:46 PM PST by knews_hound (i know my typing sucks, i do it one handed ! (caps are especially tough))
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To: Valin

Great article thanks. The important things are covered.I mean not to sully this understanding.President Reagan had to have exploration and removal of polyp in his lowers in the '80's.Sam donaldson got a second wind soon after.My initial suspicion is that they merely removed Sam.

8 posted on 12/15/2005 9:46:50 PM PST by noodler
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To: Valin


9 posted on 12/15/2005 10:07:49 PM PST by cgk (I don't see myself as a conservative. I see myself as a religious, right-wing, wacko extremist.)
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To: Valin

I remember sitting and rocking my middle child and watching all of that on TV and being astonished at the history unfolding right before my eyes. Now that middle child is almost grown and he's being astonished at the history that is unfolding now right before his eyes.

10 posted on 12/15/2005 10:31:34 PM PST by swmobuffalo (the only good terrorist is a dead one)
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To: swmobuffalo

That was a magical night. I was ill and went to sleep on the couch. I woke up to the joyful battering of the wall on TV, and thought I was dreaming. I was just a kid when the wall went up. I couldn't figure out why Pres. Kennedy let them do it.

11 posted on 12/15/2005 11:03:48 PM PST by ntnychik
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To: King Prout

Thank you very much for the ping!

12 posted on 12/16/2005 6:43:18 AM PST by Tolik
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