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Posted: 12/25/2003 4:37:40 PM EDT
Guess there can be some hope up here

( oh note the writers name...and ethnicity!  I am proud to say I once voted for this man)

2003: Year of epochal progress

SALIM MANSUR, For the London Free Press

Only those infected by cynicism fail to see the promises unfolding since a U.S.-led coalition toppled a monstrous Iraqi tyrant.

A generation from now, historians of another era looking back at the early years of the 21st century may see the year 2003 in a more favourable light.

It was a momentous year by any standards. It will be remembered primarily for the war to liberate Iraqis from an obscene dictator, and for the reverberations of this around the world.

I wrote on this page earlier this year that there never is a good war, but there are occasions for a just war. Canadians of an earlier generation understood this well.

The war to remove Saddam Hussein from power was one such occasion. The unfinished war to bring Osama bin Laden and the perpetrators of 9/11 to justice is another such occasion.

Only those who have become thoroughly corrupted by cynicism -- as is a majority on the liberal left in North America and Europe, seduced by a juvenile, self-righteous loathing of the United States -- will continue to deny the world is a better place with one less tyrant terrorizing people he holds captive while mocking others.

Among such cynics are those who never saw a dictator they did not admire, who never hesitate to be apologists for despots, such as Cuba's Fidel Castro, and who endlessly berate the shortcomings of free societies to mask the horrors of totalitarian states.

For the rest of us who seek decency and mutual recognition, honour traditional values based on faith and respect for human rights, recognize the virtues and limitations of democracy, 2003 was another reminder that evil cannot be confronted by platitudes, and cynicism cannot substitute for public policy at home or abroad.

The capture of Saddam as a fugitive should be the final nail in the politics of self-delusion, resentment and denial that has left the Arab-Muslim world as a backwater in the progress of humanity.

Iraqis are positioned for the first time in their relatively short, modern and independent history to build in freedom a decent society that could well become a beacon of hope in the Middle East.

Time will tell if free Iraqis achieve economic and social progress by drawing upon the support of the United States and its coalition partners. The examples from East Asia of some of the fastest growing economies, such as South Korea and Singapore, closely connected with the world's largest and richest economy, the United States, is a lesson for the new Iraq.

The immediate outcome of the war for Iraqi freedom has already borne fruit. Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, another Arab despot, did not wait long following Saddam's capture to announce his regime will dismantle all weapons of mass destruction it has acquired, under international supervision and verification.

Libya's announcement was preceded by Iran's agreement to sign the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, agreeing to abide by the full inspection and verification of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

These are significant steps forward in containing the spread of weapons of mass destruction to countries with unstable regimes and with no record of democratic responsibility and respect for human rights.

It is also obvious the swift responses of Libya and Iran to abide by rules of international inspection and verification would not have come about without the example set by the United States and its democratic coalition partners in Iraq.

At home in Canada, 2003 was also significant.

Between SARS, which exposed our vulnerability to diseases in a fast-paced globalized world, and the largest blackout of electric power in Ontario and parts of northeastern United States, there was the unprecedented resurgence of the Liberal party, ending with a leadership change in Ottawa.

Freedom in Iraq may also be a harbinger for democratic renewal in Canada in the new year, with unity in the political ranks of those who see themselves as heirs to the legacy of Sir John A. Macdonald.

The year 2004 may well be, we pray, a good beginning for things to come at home and abroad.

Salim Mansur is a professor of political science at the University of Western Ontario. His column appears alternate Wednesdays.

Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003
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