It now seems just possible that Mr. Bush and aides like Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz were not wrong to argue that the "status quo of despotism cannot be ignored or appeased, kept in a box or cut off," as the president put it in a speech at the National Defense University here. . .And this.
[Former President Clinton was] ebullient, noting that the Iraqi elections "went better than anyone could have imagined." In Lebanon, he said, "the Syrians are going to have to get out of there and give the Lebanese their country back, and I think the fact that the Lebanese are in the street demanding it is wonderful."
Asked about huge demonstrations on Tuesday, sponsored by Hezbollah, that demanded just the opposite, Mr. Clinton said: "I find it inconceivable that most Lebanese wouldn't like it if they had their country back. You know, they want their country back and they ought to get it." . . .Still, even as sharp and consistent a critic of Mr. Bush's foreign policy as Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat, gives Mr. Bush some credit for the latest stirrings of liberty along the eastern Mediterranean.
"What's taken place in a number of those countries is enormously constructive," Mr. Kennedy said on Sunday on the ABC News program "This Week." "It's a reflection the president has been involved."
Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut and a frequent ally of Mr. Bush on national security affairs, was in the audience for his speech on Tuesday and was more effusive.
"Look, this moment in the Middle East has the feel of Central and Eastern Europe around the collapse of the Berlin Wall," he said in a telephone interview. "It's a very different historical and political context, and we all understand that democracy in the Middle East is in its infancy. But something is happening."
Mr. Lieberman said Mr. Bush deserved credit for at least two things: the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the continued American military presence in Iraq, which he said showed "the proven willingness of the United States to put its power behind its principles."
Support for President Bush's mission of spreading democracy throughout the world, especially the Mideast, is winning accolades from an unlikely source - New Mexico's Gov. Bill Richardson, a prominent Democrat often mentioned as a possible presidential candidate.Political momentum, both domestically and internationally, is a fascinating thing to witness.
Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and energy secretary under President Clinton, on Monday cited Syria's promise to lower the profile of its 14,000 troops in Lebanon as a "very significant" result of U.S. pressure.
The presidents of Syria and Lebanon announced Monday that the Syrian troops would be pulled back to eastern Lebanon's Bekaa Valley by March 31.
"I believe the Bush administration deserves credit for putting pressure and saying that authoritarian regimes have to go," Richardson said on NBC's "Today" show. Bush's stated mission of spreading democracy around the world "is working, whether it's by design or by accident," he said.
In the past, "U.S. policy has winked at Saudi Arabia and Egypt" because of America's stakes in the region, such as energy interests and military bases, Richardson said. "We kind of said 'OK, it's all right not to be democratic.' "
"The president, in talking about freedom and democracy, is sparking a wave of very positive democratic sentiment that might help us override both Islamic fundamentalism that has formed in that region and also some of the hatred for our policy of invading Iraq," he said.