A few days ago, I expressed my fear that the war in Iraq may not have produced some of the key beneifts I had anticipated — inducing other Middle Eastern states to crack down on terrorism and to shy away from weapons of mass destruction. Reader Kurt Brouwer responed by calling my attention to this report from the liberal San Francisco Chronicle. The report suggests that, in the aftermath of our actions in Iraq, governments in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria are undertaking “unprecedented political reforms.” According to the report, “the past six months have witnessed a significant shift in the political climate” in the form of “major changes in policies regarding human rights and reforms.” This isn’t the same thing as cracking down on terrorism or eschewing WMD, but it sounds like a positive development.
I wouldn’t be me, however, unless I were skeptical about these reports. My skepticism also extends to Iran’s promises to stop enriching and reprocessing uranium and to allow more aggressive inspections of its nuclear facilities. Nonetheless, the possibility that our actions have made a difference in the region should not be discounted. We’ll have to wait and see.
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