Jewish World Review Nov. 25, 2004 / 12 Kislev, 5765

Joe Scarborough

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Iraq and Ukraine — growing the seeds of democracy | While US troops sweep through Iraq's "Triangle of Death," pundits at home continue to describe their efforts in the bleakest of terms.

If I didn't know better, I could almost conclude these elitists at home were cheering against America's grand democratic experiment in Iraq — lest they once again found themselves on the wrong side of history.

Most of those blasting away at our Iraq policy are, after all, the same chattering classes who spent the better part of the 1980s predicting Ronald Reagan's confrontational policies toward the Soviets would lead to World War III. Instead, Reagan's drive to export freedom behind the Iron Curtain led, well, to freedom.

Score one for the ideologues.

While few of those leftists who are once again criticizing America's effort to bring freedom and liberty to an enslaved people dare criticize the character of our troops, most who bloviate on the hopelessness of the war do so from the swankest parts of Manhattan or Georgetown, while ignoring the judgment of our Marines whose boots are on the ground in Fallujah and Baghdad.

Most of those men and women believe we are fighting what Tom Friedman called "a noble cause."

But as one person sarcastically wrote in an email to me this past summer, "I'm sure the elitists who are debating this war in a Starbucks in New York City have a better grasp of what's going on over here than those of us who are fighting the war. How easy it must be for them to draw conclusions on things they know nothing about."

Couldn't have said it better myself.

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Sometimes the road to democracy can be rocky. The years following the collapse of the Soviet Union have taught us just how difficult planting freedom's seeds can be.

In Kiev, over one hundred thousand protesters filled the Ukrainian city's main square to protest recent elections. And while tomorrow's newspapers will be filled with stories about civil unrest in the former Soviet Republic, European historians have to be viewing the political spectacle with wide-eyed wonder.

A little over a decade ago, such a spontaneous demonstration would have brought out tanks, tear gas and rubber bullets from the USSR's finest. Protesters would have been beaten and dragged off to jails in the Ukraine or shipped to gulags in Siberia.

But today, I saw pictures of protesters approaching police barricades armed with nothing more than smiles and flowers.

Perhaps we have entered a Prague Spring that is not false.

Leftists in American newsrooms and on college campuses in the 80s ridiculed Reagan for his arrogant belief that freedom could — or even should — be exported to the Soviet Union and its satellite states.

But history proved them wrong. And those protesters taking to the streets to support a presidential candidate embracing liberal reforms, are Reagan's legacy to Europe and the world.

Will we be monitoring similar democratic protests in the Middle East ten years from now, as another region freed from the grip of totalitarian rule, struggles to grow the seeds of democracy at home?

I believe we will. But freedom will grow in Iraq, Afghanistan and across the Middle East in spite of the best efforts of elitists in America and Europe to derail America's noble effort to ease misery and suffering in a region that has known little else over the past 500 years.

De Tocqueville wrote,"I should have loved freedom, I believe, at all times, but in the time in which we live I am ready to worship it."

Well, freedom is on the march in our time. And it will not be stopped by newsroom elites or tenured survivors from the Age of Aquarius. Their day has past.

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Former Congressman Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.) hosts “Scarborough Country,” 10 p.m. ET, weeknights on MSNBC. He is the author of the recently published "Rome Wasn't Burnt in a Day : The Real Deal on How Politicians, Bureaucrats, and Other Washington Barbarians are Bankrupting America". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)Comment by clicking here.

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