Morning Report: May 4, 2004

· Beating versus joining: the future of the Arab League, if it has one. When Tunisia summarily uninvited the members of the Arab League from the summit it was to host, AL Secretary-General sarcastically snapped that perhaps the Arabs should join NATO instead. But in fact many Arabs are talking about doing just that: several Arab states are already on track to sign formal agreements with NATO at the upcoming summit in Istanbul (the largest city in NATO’s second-strongest member state). Taheri attributes the “stampede” away from the Arab League – and all it represents – to dissatisfaction with economic and political conditions in the Arab world. Citing the varying degrees of advancement among AL member states, Taheri sees two options available: individual “national strategies” tailored to each country’s needs, or partnership with existing international organizations.
Read Taheri here.
· Another word for freedom: guarded optimism from Safire and Wretchard. An Israeli proverb holds that Israel’s greatest strategic asset is the Mediterranean Sea – since, with no place to retreat to, Israelis have no choice but to fight. As June 30 approaches, Iraqis may be feeling the same way. Citing the now “inexorable” handover of sovereignty, William Safire points to the silver lining of a cloudy April: “The UN, at last given its long-sought ‘central role’ in Iraq’s politics, is becoming less afflicted with hubris.” Kofi Annan has distanced himself from Brahimi’s anti-Western remarks and has pledged proactive UN cooperation in the corruption investigation. Iraqis, too, are feeling the pressure: they must “take up the opportunity now made available to them” lest Iraq slip back into a new era of torture chambers and mass graves. The Belmont Club post echoes a similar sense of urgency: while the USMC has penned up the enemy in Fallujah without a massacre, many “bad eggs” will likely be present in the newly-minted Iraqi security forces. On a larger scale, Americans must face the “burning certainty” that our nation’s future depends on defeating terrorism and bringing democracy to the mideast. Both Wretchard and Safire agree that the situation must “concentrate minds”, as the saying goes, in both Iraq and the United States. We must win it all, or lose it all. This is the meaning of freedom.
Read Belmont Club here.
Read William Safire's column quickly, while it's still free.