Did you ever in your wildest dreams imagine reading a New York Times column not written by a conservative that claimed "the forces for decency, democracy and pluralism" in the Middle East "have a little wind at their backs" due to the policies of former President George W. Bush?
Neither did I, but much to my surprise, such was said by Thomas Friedman in his most recent piece entitled "Winds of Change?"
Readers are strongly advised to fasten their seatbelts tightly across their waists, for you are about to enter an alternate media reality:
There are a million things to hate about President Bush’s costly and wrenching wars. But the fact is, in ousting Saddam in Iraq in 2003 and mobilizing the U.N. to push Syria out of Lebanon in 2005, he opened space for real democratic politics that had not existed in Iraq or Lebanon for decades. “Bush had a simple idea, that the Arabs could be democratic, and at that particular moment simple ideas were what was needed, even if he was disingenuous,” said Michael Young, the opinion editor of The Beirut Daily Star. “It was bolstered by the presence of a U.S. Army in the center of the Middle East. It created a sense that change was possible, that things did not always have to be as they were.”
Need to pinch yourself, or check that link to make sure I'm not kidding about who wrote this?
Now, to be sure, this was not a piece meant to flatter the former President, as Friedman was also critical of Bush whilst praising Obama.
And, this isn't the first time the Times columnist has spoken positively about the net result of Bush's policies despite the mishaps.
However, as Friedman after last year's elections claimed that it would take great moves by "Obama and the Democrats [to] not only end the Iraq war but salvage something positive from it," it is both surprising and refreshing to see him give Bush any credit for the progress in this region.
With that in mind, readers are encouraged to review the entire piece.