The sun is slowly rising....
....and the scales are coming off.
One of my favourite cinematic moments is the scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian when Reg, aka John Cleese, the leader of the People’s Front of Judea, is trying to whip up anti-Roman sentiment among his team of slightly hesitant commandos.Blackfive gets the hat tip for this remarkable article that reviews what's taken place and cautiously predicts a better future.
“What have the Romans ever done for us?” he asks.
“Well, there’s the aqueduct,” somebody says, thoughtfully. “The sanitation,” says another. “Public order,” offers a third. Reg reluctantly acknowledges that there may have been a couple of benefits. But then steadily, and with increasing enthusiasm, his men reel off a litany of the good things the Romans have wrought with their occupation of the Holy Land.
By the time they’re finished they’re not so sure about the whole insurgency idea after all and an exasperated Reg tries to rally them: “All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?”
I can’t help but think of that scene as I watch the contortions of the anti-American hordes in Britain, Europe and even in the US itself in response to the remarkable events that are unfolding in the real Middle East today.
Then closes with this.
In a speech one month before the start of the Iraq war in 2003, Mr Bush laid out the strategy: “The world has a clear interest in the spread of democratic values, because stable and free nations do not breed the ideologies of murder. They encourage the peaceful pursuit of a better life.”Some have mocked Bush's religion. Other's have expressed fear at the open expression of his faith and the possibility that it informs his decisions. Yet it is that very faith that led Bush to believe that Arabs, like all other men, yearned to be free and needed only the evidence that change could happen to press forward on their own.
I doubt that anybody, even the most prescient in the Bush Administration or at 10 Downing Street, thought the progress we are now seeing would come as quickly as it has.
But what was clear to the bold foreign policy strategists in Washington was that the status quo that existed before September 11 could no longer be tolerated. Much of the Muslim world represented decay and stagnation, and bred anger and resentment. That was the root cause of the terrorism that had attacked America with increasing ferocity between 1969 and 2001.
America’s critics craved stability in the Middle East. Don’t rock the boat, they said. But to the US this stability was that of the mass grave; the calm was the eerie quiet that precedes the detonation of the suicide bomb. The boat was holed and listing viciously.
As a foreign policy thinker close to the Administration put it to me, in the weeks before the Iraq war two years ago: “Shake it and see. That’s what we are going to do.” The US couldn’t be certain of the outcome, but it could be sure that whatever happened would be better than the status quo.
And so America, the revolutionary power, plunged in and shook the region to its foundations. And it is already liking what it sees.
Was he mistaken? It doesn't look like it, does it?