Hit & Run

Evolving "Terms of Debate"

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There may be no shortage of bad news from the Middle East, writes Jackson Diehl in the WaPo, but "there nevertheless now exists the beginning of a broad pro-reform coalition in and outside the region" in support of a goal that greatly resembles Bush's democracy initiative.

Diehl argues that although this "coalition hasn't entirely coalesced" (many of its members dislike Bush), "Bush's preaching on democracy over the past year, and the modest action that has come with it, has changed the terms of debate about the future of the Middle East."

Diehl's sketch of this uncoalesced movement (it includes some possibly empty remarks from Jordan's king, a paper from the German Marshall Fund, scattered quotes from pro-democratic reformers in the West, etc.) suggests a phenomenon that remains tentative at best. But its tentativeness isn't the point. Bush has forced an opening for democratic reform in the region, and others are gradually joining in the long-range effort.