Ten Years Later, a New World

Ten years after Sept. 11, 2001, the world has a different face, a wholly new (well, fairly ancient) set of problems, and above all, a new promise. The Soviet Union seems to have slid into historical darkness mostly unmourned. The Arab nations are in great and maybe hopeful turmoil — “the Arab Spring,” many call it. Ten years from now, its fruit may be marvelous to behold. Or it may prove to have been a false spring.

Even sharp critics must observe, though, that such a hopeful emergence of spring in the Middle East is what President Bush foresaw when in Afghanistan and Iraq, to enormous criticism, he started movements toward self-rule, renewed civil societies, new freedoms of communication with the outside world, democracy, and “natural rights.” But the harsh test of reality — the long-term success of these springtimes — has not yet been fully met. To give freedom a chance was my main hope in supporting President Bush — a chance, but not a guarantee.

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