Today while reading the comments section on a post at Belmont Club, I encountered Evan, whose comment at 7:33 A.M. begins thus:
I suppose the battle of Iraq is won or lost to the extent to which it is not or is a contributor to the Islamic madness. There are several measures one could use, say five years after withdrawal: Is it serving as a jihadi incubator, as Afghanistan did (and the banlieues soon will)? Is it plagued by pathological conspiracy theories and hatred of the infidel, particularly Jews? Is consensual government holding? I am cautiously optimistic that these questions will be answered the way the civilized world wants them to be. There was this extraordinary scene recently, a day or so after the "dungeon" with 174 prisoners was revealed. A senior Iraqi minister had to sit there and explain this, and take hostile questions from both Iraqi and foreign reporters. He looked just like a harried press secretary in any Western government, a scene familiar to all of us. We take this for granted, but it would've been unimaginable in any Arab country two years ago. I hope that enough Iraqis have now crossed the mental bridge to normalcy - they are turning their backs on indispensable strongmen, on suicide bombing, and the other repellent aspects of so much of the Muslim world.
One has in this gem the outlines of a very reasonable "metric" for our success I have not before encountered, namely, the extent to which [Iraq] is not or is a contributor to the Islamic madness. And this is coupled with an astute perception and interpretation of an event, the discomfort of the senior Iraqi minister being made to squirm before a hostile press, I had not seen anyone else call our attention to. (Of course I don't read everything!)
So I wandered over to Evan's blog, The Future Uncertain, and was not disappointed by his most recent post, Economic Growth as a Moral Imperative, where I learned something new about child labor in the Third World, among other things.
But back to Iraq. President Bush's speech yesterday began what I hope will be a sustained corrective process, one directed at helping the American public see beyond the agenda of The New York Times. It is only two weeks to the parliamentary elections in Iraq; it is high time we begin to appreciate this for the watershed it is.