March 4, 2005
On the surface, what is happening in the Middle East seems very promising -- on the surface.
Yes, it looks promising in Lebanon.
Yes, there was a Palestinian election and that seems promising.
Iraqi elections went better than expected.
But, and this is a very big but, what about the influence of Islamic extremism?
When people are told their God expects certain things of them, including the killing of people he regards as infidels, it is difficult to get them to think otherwise and accept democratic principles.
Still, what if people who are staging the popular uprising in Lebanon following the assassination of their former prime minister prevail and manage to force Syria to withdraw?
What if the Lebanese elect their own leaders and Syria 's dictatorial regime falls?
What happens if Iraq stabilizes?
That would leave Iran as the remaining bad boy on the Mid-East block.
With rumblings of a youth movement revolution, the mullahs in Tehran might also be pushed aside.
I wouldn't bet the rent on any or all of this happening, but it could; or not.
I'm Cal Thomas in Washington.
Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist based in Washington, D.C. Watch his television show, After Hours with Cal Thomas, on the Fox News Channel, Saturdays at 11 p.m. Eastern Time.