All That Needs to Be Said

Charles Krauthammer reminds us that, in the aftermath of the Mumbai massacre, we shouldn’t lose track of the remarkable, once-in-a-generation achievement in the Middle East: ratification of the status of forces agreement between the U.S. and its fledgling ally Iraq. He continues:

Also largely overlooked at home was the sheer wonder of the procedure that produced Iraq’s consent: classic legislative maneuvering with no more than a tussle or two — tame by international standards (see YouTube: “Best Taiwanese Parliament Fights of All Time!”) — over the most fundamental issues of national identity and direction.

Every conventional wisdom has been turned on its head in the course of the Iraq War. And political ironies abound. The vilified George Bush did largely accomplish his goal of liberating an entire nation. A democratic regime can function in the Middle East. And there was in fact a military “solution”–one  that preceded the political reconciliation. Each of these propositions was hotly disputed by the man who is now President-elect, who rose to power on the promise to end the “disastrous” war. After defeating the man who championed the successful war strategy, he will now preside, if he is competent, over a great diplomatic and military victory.

So President Obama can go wherever he chooses for his address to the Muslim world. But the most critical message has already been sent –via General Petraeus and George W. Bush. The Middle East need not be a bastion of extremism, violence, and anti-Americansim. Radical clerics don’t have the last say unless the population passively consents.  There is another route, one which Muslim countries can freely choose for themselves.  What more need be said?