I've seldom been so optimistic about a new year! Being here in Iraq, helping the Iraqis to sustain the freedom that they nearly all desperately want and need, and taking part in what may soon be regarded as some of the most important history of the Middle East is very gratifying.
Still we see a predominance in the news of reporting only the negative. I seldom see the negative, and wonder why more of the positive is not being reported (although the trend does seem to be improving).
More Iraqis seem happy these days. More of them honk and wave as they go by. They are optimistic, for the most part, about their new future. It will be difficult, as they struggle to create and sustain the foundations of a democratic republic, such as strong industry and a strong middle class, but I believe it will continue to happen, as the seed has germinated and begun to sprout.
Seeds are sprouting in other areas of the Middle East as well. Syria is feeling some pressure from its populace, and it is being reported that the government is making modifications amicable to freedom. Egypt seems ready to cooperate more economically with the United States and the west. Most remarkably, however, is the groundswell of support for liberty in Lebanon, including from people who at first disdained the American presence in Iraq, but are now starting to see its benefits.
For an example of what's happening in Lebanon, see the following article:
I, like probably every soldier here, miss my family dearly. But I am confident that some day I will look back on this time away from them with gratitude. Gratitude that I was a part of a new day of liberty in Iraq and the Middle East.
Although certainly with a dear price, freedom will continue to flourish here, because those who have tasted and learned to love it are in quantity far more than those who realize that their autonomy of power over all the rest is slipping from their fingers.