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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pakistan, Cuba, Iran - Reformers are Starting to Win

The good news is that free and fair elections were held in nuclear Pakistan -- and the religious parties lost big-time, as did President Musharraf whose party received less than half of Mr. Sharif's party.

While the Bush administration pinned all their hopes on Mr. Musharraf winning, they should instead be happy that democracy happened -- and the extremists lost, despite reports of the tribal areas preventing women from voting. Pakistanis are sick of the extremists coming out of the hills and killing people for no reason.

To their great credit, Pakistani's chose the more liberal and progressive voices. That means that the nuclear issue has improved considerably from what could have happened had extremists been the vote of choice.

The other good news is that Fidel Castro is "out" (he looks like a walking ghost,) and even his brother Raul is an improvement that could begin the process of taking Cuba out of the 1950's. Young people in Cuba want "change" (meaning the Internet, opportunity, jobs, choices, etc.)
Raul Castro is more open to reforms than Fidel would ever allow. When Raul put economic reforms in motion, Fidel withdrew them. Those days are over.

Finally, a third good thing is that Iran is actually allowing reformist candidates on the ballot this time (after knocking them off last time). So, progress is possible even in Iran.

An American friend who does business in Pakistan and travels there often tells me that Bhutto's killing sparked a huge sympathy vote, yet her party only got 20 more seats than Mr. Sharif. So, our guys should be happy to let democracy take its place.

After all, it would look hypocritical for the President, as he has done, to demand "Free and Fair Elections" in Cuba, and yet ignore the free and fair people's choice of new leadership in Pakistan (or Gaza and Venezuela, even when you don't like who the people pick)...

Pakistan's Mr. Musharraf is not as indispensable as the administration thinks. He is expendable and has had his turn at the wheel since 1999.

It is democracy that is indispensable...

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