But today, in the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, he lifts the obscurant veil of the unthinking instant, and reveals the sweeping breadth and human depth of Arab history, lending revelatory perspective to its collision with the West. He is brilliant:
We have not always been brilliant in the war we have waged, for these are lands we did not fully know. But our work has been noble and necessary, and we can’t call a halt to it in midstream. We bought time for reform to take root in several Arab and Muslim realms. Leave aside the rescue of Afghanistan, Kuwait and Qatar have done well by our protection, and Lebanon has retrieved much of its freedom. The three larger realms of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria are more difficult settings, but there, too, the established orders of power will have to accommodate the yearnings for change. A Kuwaiti businessman with an unerring feel for the ways of the Arab world put it thus to me: “Iraq, the Internet, and American power are undermining the old order in the Arab world. There are gains by the day.” The rage against our work in Iraq, all the way from the “chat rooms” of Arabia to the bigots of Finsbury Park in London, is located within this broader struggle.
He is not spare however, and his writing is deep, so go there with time to spend, prepared to learn and be challenged to think. But mostly, read to remember why we are there, and what we can accomplish if only we take strength from our best hopes, draw courage from the profundity of our sacrifices and most of all, refuse the counsel of our fears.