In this Washington Post op-ed ridiculously titled "Egypt protests show George W. Bush was right about freedom in the Arab world," Elliot Abrams attempts to show how GWB's democracy agenda forecast the desire for the Arab peoples of the Middle Eastern nations to be free. He says:
The three decades Hosni Mubarak and his cronies have already had in power leave Egypt with no reliable mechanisms for a transition to democratic rule. Egypt will have some of the same problems as Tunisia, where there are no strong democratic parties and where the demands of the people for rapid change may outstrip the new government's ability to achieve it. This is also certain to be true in Yemen, where a weak central government has spent all its energies and most of its resources simply staying in power.
All these developments seem to come as a surprise to the Obama administration, which dismissed Bush's "freedom agenda" as overly ideological and meant essentially to defend the invasion of Iraq. But as Bush's support for the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon and for a democratic Palestinian state showed, he was defending self-government, not the use of force. Consider what Bush said in that 2003 speech, which marked the 20th anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy, an institution established by President Ronald Reagan precisely to support the expansion of freedom.
"Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe - because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty," Bush said. "As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment and violence ready for export."
Now I'm no foreign policy expert, but I'm thinking that GWB was meaning to use this phrase in the context of his preventive invasion of Iraq, to justify the burning, looted buildings and mass chaos that he left in the wake of that unnecessary violence. As Greg Sargent points out, the sad thing about neocons claiming credit for the unrest in Tunisia and Egypt is how they think that the model for democracy requires using foreign military intervention as a prerequisite. Yes, if only Elliot Abrams had been in charge of developing foreign policy in the Middle East so that democracy and freedom could "reign" across the region. Oh, wait. HE WAS.
While neocons want to somehow take credit for understanding the Middle East, the current conflict is more indicative of the failures of US foreign policy than any successful understanding. Considering that Abrams was heavily involved in the Iran-Contra scandal, a signatory of PNAC, and one of the main cheerleaders for the Iraq invasion, you'd think that he would be the one of the last people on earth that a responsible Democrat in the White House would call. And you would be wrong. Really, Mr. President? Have you no pride or sense at all? What a mistake.