Among my Easter Monday meanderings, I wondered aloud yesterday whether the Afghan and Iraq wars of the past decade might deserve any credit for having catalyzed the current mass movements sweeping the Arab world from Morocco through Libya and Egypt to Yemen and Lebanon. Also I harked back to the end of the Cold War and the speculation about the role Ronald Reagan played in the Evil Empire's demise. Is it possible that, despite the venality and greed of our leaders, America has in fact played the role of spreading democracy around the world?
What was the impact of Reagan's Star Wars on the Soviet Union? Some say it was decisive:
And while I have always felt cwertain that the Iraq War is about oil,Bush did claim it was about bringing democracy to the Middle East:
Last Updated: Thursday, 6 November, 2003, 18:44 GMT
Bush demands Mid-East democracy
US President George W Bush
Bush: Tough message for Middle East leaders
President George W Bush has deplored the "freedom deficit" in the Middle East and said the United States must remain focused on the region "for decades".
"Our commitment to democracy is being tested in the Middle East," he said in a televised Washington speech in defence of US democracy.
Mr Bush said dictators in Iraq and Syria had "left a legacy of torture, oppression, misery and ruin".
Turning to Iran, he warned that "the regime in Tehran must heed the democratic demands of the Iranian people, or lose its last claim to legitimacy".
But some governments in the region were "beginning to see the need for change", he said, citing Morocco, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Yemen.Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe."
He also stressed that "Islam is consistent with democratic rule" in his speech to the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington.
He said that to say Islam and democracy were incompatible was "cultural condescension".
Eight years later, does this sound prophetic?
Well, whether he meant what he said and believed every word... or he was a shill of the moneyed interests and this was all propaganda to get us on board his oil war... or a bit of both... something pretty exciting is suddenly happening int he Arab world along the lines of his 2003 speech.
And, despite my instincts to the contrary, I find myself reluctantly agreeing with those Republicans in Congress and elsewhere who say America must stay the course.
Reports this morning out of Egypt suggest that the fundamentalists are gaining strength. We must not allow this to happen.
We ought not to allow Libya's dictator and his cronies to prevail in Libya either.
Perhaps these Middle Eastern wars will bring us to bankruptcy. Standard and Poors may lower Uncle Sam's credit rating and put us all in the poor house. I won't like that one bit. If my modest pension savings evaporate, I will be pissed off, I assure you.
Ont he other hand, however, this incurable romantic --- spotted nearly a half century ago by one of the nuns who taught me in high school --- is thrilled to have lived through the relatively peaceful demise of the Soviet Union, the relatively peaceful end to Apartheid in South Africa, and the election of a black man as president of the United States.
I'd sure love to live long enough to see democracy break out in the Islamic world as well. That might be worth some sacrifices.