- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 10, 2005

Asked about the 18th-century French Revolution’s impact, Chou Enlai, erudite deputy to Master Genocidist Mao Tse-tung, famously replied: “It’s too early to tell.”

However, its not too early to tell what are the effects of the Bush Revolution: You see them everywhere. Most recently you saw the effects in Egypt where Hosni Mubarak has suddenly announced, and not out of the goodness of his heart, that opposition candidates to his re-election campaign will be permitted. You saw it again when the people of Lebanon marched through the streets of Beirut demanding Syria withdraw its longtime occupation troops from their country. You saw it in the agreement by Libya’s Col. Moammar Gadhafi to halt his nuclear and chemical weapons development.

Suddenly it appears Mr. Bush’s agenda has become a global agenda. When rulers in other countries do something unpleasant to their constituents, it is with one eye on the White House — not Washington, the White House. What will he think? What might he do? How to reply if he criticizes someone’s domestic policy?

To strengthen his fight for freedom, President Bush must deal with an entity that pays little attention to his democratic agenda. I refer to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, whose membership mocks the commission’s reason for existence. What are Communist China, Communist Cuba, Sudan and Zimbabwe doing on the Commission on Human Rights? Our U.N. ambassador should challenge these members’ credentials. He should ask as Mr. Bush asks: Whose side are you on: that of the human-rights violators or the supporters?

But there is another and perhaps larger issue involved in President Bush’s ambition: globalization of democracy. I refer here to what Samuel Huntington in a famous Foreign Affairs article called the “clash of civilizations,” which he predicted a dozen years ago would form the battle lines of the future.

We have seen wars between kings, followed by wars of nations followed by wars of ideologies. With the fall of the Soviet Union and communism, we have entered a new arena of conflict: the movement into Western power centers of an ambitious Islam.

There is no concern about Asianization or Hinduization in the West due to immigration from China or India. But there is deepening concern especially in France, the Netherlands and Sweden about Islamization. Mr. Huntington writes:

“A West at the peak of power confronts non-Wests that increasingly have the desire, the will and the resources to shape the world in non-Western ways.”

This is something new. One can discuss Buddhism or Confucianism and even criticize its tenets in a book or magazine article. One New York freebie newspaper mocked Pope Paul John II last week. But the freebie editor would risk his life if he attacked Islam. How many writers would dare write a critique of Islam and how many publishers would dare publish it? Ask Salman Rushdie. Or the Netherlands’ Van Gogh family.

Conflict along the fault lines between Western and Islamic civilizations has been going on, says Mr. Huntington, for 1,300 years and there is no sign the clash will end anytime soon.

Is President Bush’s aspiration realizable to globalize democracy as the road to world peace? Iraq has demonstrated it will not be easy. Perhaps, Chou Enlai was right. It’s too early to tell.

Arnold Beichman, a Hoover Institution research fellow, is a columnist for The Washington Times.

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