REVOLUTION

Thomas Friedman explains the Arab reaction to the war and why it is so critical that the US get this one right:

Whose view will be redeemed depends on how Iraq plays out, but, trust me, everyone’s watching. I spent this afternoon with the American studies class at Cairo University. The professor, Mohamed Kamel, summed up the mood: “In 1975, Richard Nixon came to Egypt and the government turned out huge crowds. Some Americans made fun of Nixon for this, and Nixon defended himself by saying, `You can force people to go out and welcome a foreign leader, but you can’t force them to smile.’ Maybe the Iraqis will eventually stop resisting you. But that will not make this war legitimate. What the U.S. needs to do is make the Iraqis smile. If you do that, people will consider this a success.”

There is a lot riding on that smile, Mr. Kamel added, because this is the first “Arab-American war.” This is not about Arabs and Israelis. This is about America getting inside the Arab world — not just with its power or culture, but with its ideals. It is a war for what America stands for. “If it backfires,” Mr. Kamel concluded, “if you don’t deliver, it will really have a big impact. People will not just say your policies are bad, but that your ideas are a fake, you don’t really believe them or you don’t know how to implement them.”

Quite right.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.