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Cliff Schecter

Cliff Schecter

Posted: February 22, 2011 12:37 PM

It was only a matter of time. Once the uprisings spread from Tunisia to Egypt to protests of differing sizes everywhere from Libya, Bahrain, and Yemen to Syria and Jordan - and even Italy - some semi-delusional retreaded tyre was going to emerge from the shadows to proclaim President Bush was responsible for the sudden flowering of revolution and democratic potential across the Middle East.

Enter Elliot Abrams. Yes, the same Elliot Abrams that was convicted of unlawfully withholding information from the Congressional Investigation into the Iran-Contra affair.

Abrams, who you might think would be disqualified from publicly addressing all matters pertaining to "democracy-building" - after undermining the will of the representatives of the United States people with his involvement in arguably the biggest political scandal of President Reagan's administration - took to the pages of the Washington Post to share his nostalgic blend of freedom-fries optimism and historical revisionism:

This spirit did not always animate US diplomacy in the Bush administration; plenty of officials found it unrealistic and had to be prodded or overruled to follow the president's lead. But the revolt in Tunisia, the gigantic wave of demonstrations in Egypt and the more recent marches in Yemen all make clear that Bush had it right - and that the Obama administration's abandonment of this mind-set is nothing short of a tragedy.

What mindset was that? The one that treated American freedoms in the manner that Dick Cheney does a hunting companion's face? Or the one that Don Rumsfeld discusses in his new book that led the Bush Administration to gather plans to attack Iraq within two weeks of 9/11 - which has only already been corroborated by everyone from Clinton and Bush's counter-terrorism czar, Richard Clarke, to former Bush Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill - even though there was no evidence they had anything to do with that act of barbarism - and still isn't.

Maybe, just maybe, as we just passed Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday, we can remember how the conservative icon spoke of winning "hearts and minds" in the then-solidly communist Soviet bloc. This meant leading by example at home, so other countries would yearn for liberty - and not bombing Latvia because, you know, that would somehow inspire a passion for freedom in Bulgaria.

What I find most interesting about what Abrams has to say is that it is not just wrong - but the polar opposite of the truth. The undemocratic actions by President Bush both at home and abroad, from rendition and torture to preemptive war in Iraq, are the very antithesis of the promotion of freedom.

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