The last week or so has seen some enormous stories that I would normally be writing a lot on, and my silence shouldn't be seen as significant beyond just meaning that I have been very busy. Hopefully Harmony and Jeff will start making some more appearances too.
The recent developments in the Middle East
are stunning, so much so that I would say they are not receiving as much media attention as they deserve (at least not in the British press). Not that Lebanon's or Egypt's slow movements to democracy are being ignored, but if these trends continue then it is just as big of a deal as the fall of the Berlin Wall.
I am skeptical, however, of those who would attribute the protests in Beirut to the liberation of Iraq. I think that the correct summation of the situation is that Lebanese protesters are emboldened by the Bush administration's words of support and presence in the region, but it is much too simplistic to say that the Iraq election was the first domino in the region. From the NYT article linked to above:
Another factor, pressure from the Bush administration, has emboldened demonstrators, who believe that their governments will be more hesitant to act against them with Washington linking its security to greater freedom after the Sept. 11 attacks. The United States says it will no longer support repressive governments, and young Arabs, while hardly enamored of American policy in the region, want to test that promise.