No one quite knows all the causes of the unrest in Tunisia, now spreading to Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East, or how this will all end, and whether this seemingly middle-class revolt dovetails to the 2009 demonstrations in Iran and the Cedar Revolution earlier in Lebanon. But while Islamists may eventually hijack the popular outrage against authoritarianism, both secular and Islamic, for now one thing is at least clear. There will probably be no such popular violent unrest in Iraq where an elected and popular government is legitimate and where violence comes from small numbers of anti-democratic forces seeking to impose an intolerant dictatorship of some sort.
Given that those in and about the Obama administration have long dropped their old narratives about Iraq (“lost,” etc.), given that there are presently no popular complaints at home against our many-thousands still in the country (e.g., mysteriously no more movies like In the Valley of Elah, Redacted, Stop Loss, no more Camp Caseys in Texas, no more courtship of Michael Moore), and given that it has become one of Obama’s “greatest achievements,” surely someone in this administration can channel some sort of support for the dissidents in a way we did not in 2009 in Iran, by pointing to American support for the consensual and constitutional government in Iraq. Its free elections, complete control of its own fossil fuels, and open and unbridled media did not come out of the head of Zeus or because Saddam got tired of killing people.