I see this is a direct result of our foreign policy. It is hard to dispute that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have had a direct hand in causing this pressure on the Syrian backed government of Lebanon.
So it goes like this,....Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine...and now Lebanon. That crazy Bush, thinking Arabs want to be free. Doesnt he know better?
The Arabs wanting to be free was never the question. The question was whether or not we wanted to pay the costs that resulted from invading Iraq. I don't think it's unreasonable to respect the views of many Americans that 300 billion (or whatever the $ cost ends up; probably far more than that) could be better spent in the US than on creating conditions for Islamic parties to win elections thousands of miles away. And that doesn't even get at the personal cost to thousands of American families (many of whom are happy to pay it, but others were not).
And just because they are freer, doesn't mean they'll like us any more. Hezbollah is enormously popular there, and even the most ardent of anti-Syrians (say, the Druze) are, in many cases, not fans of the USA.
And our role in this is limited (unless we blew up Hariri). The Lebanese have been organizing this for many years, benefit from already having many well organized political groups, and have the free-est press in the region (outside of Israel). All those things are essential. As was Syria's incredibly stupid move to extened the term of the Lebanese president last year. That was what really set the stage for February's events.
I'm not saying we didn't help (or that France didn't - they've been more active re: Lebanon specifically than we did). Talking about these values matters. But it overlooks the extremely hard and dangerous work that the Lebanese have been doing on their own for years - and the contributions of many who've died fighting this fight.
Now as to Egypt - I think we had more to do with that. But there too, there are domestic reasons for that move.
Call me jaded, but there's a nagging snarky thought running around in my head: "Shit, Abdullah! We'd better kick out the Syrians and get those democratic reforms going or the Americans are going to come and fuck us up as bad as they did Iraq!" And by fuck us up, I don't mean "kick our ass."
Hey, it may be that (when we can really figure out who gets the blame and the credit for everything in about 20 years) that Bush will deserve some hearty cheers for doing everything we are complaining about now. Maybe. But two major points:
1. The fat lady hasn't sung yet. Nothing has happened in any country that isn't reversable by future bad luck/bad people. There are hopeful and positive signs right now, but we need to wait to see if we will succeed (or fail). We invaded Afghanistan almost 3 1/2 years ago at this point, and that country is not doing well at all. Yeah, elections, fine, dandy; but their opium production is at an all time high, and the Kabul government doesn't control much in the way of territory outside the capital. So mix some good news in with the bad.
2. Bush's methods of acting have done, in my opinion, serious damage to democracy in this country. He has a very autocratic style of governing, from refusing to reveal who the administration meets with (Cheney's energy meetings back in 2001), to scripted press conferences, to demonstrably false budget projections, to deliberately letting the country believe that Iraq had anything to do with Al Qaeda. All of these actions may have helped Bush push through his policies (maybe), but they have damaged the process by which this country decides things. How will Republicans feel when the next Democratic President does the same things? Again, it is possible that Bush has ended up doing good things, but the process of doing good has done harm to us. We're still adding up the bill for that.
In any event, it is pre-mature to argue that the world is roses and sunny pastures today. There is still lots more to be done.