"Just recently we have had the Lebanese revolution, the Egyptian announcement about electoral changes, the Iraqi elections, the Afghan elections," wrote Charles Krauthammer in the spring of 2005. "Kuwait has just extended suffrage to women, and Syria has announced, however disingenuously, that they are moving toward legalizing political parties, purging the ruling Baath Party, sponsoring free municipal elections in 2007, and formally endorsing a market economy." He concluded: "What we have seen in the last six months has been simply astonishing -- well, astonishing to the critics." . . .
"There is a pathology, a historical pathology," explained New Republic editor in chief Martin Peretz, "that [Bush] has attacked with unprecedented vigor and with unprecedented success." That pathology was "the political culture of the Middle East, which the president may actually have changed."
And, indeed, things have changed. As Sabrina Tavernise reported in Monday's New York Times about the centerpiece of the U.S.-orchestrated Mid-East transformation, "after months of apparently random sectarian violence the pattern has become one of attack and counterattack, with Sunni militants staging what commanders call 'spectacular' strikes and Shiite militias retaliating with abductions and murders of Sunnis."
Welcome to the long, dark Arab winter.
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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.