For the first time in what feels like ages there is finally some good news for the forces of good in the world. Yes, each of these four events requires follow up and will produce ample cause to worry in the future. Nevertheless, we’ve been moving backwards for so long (since April 2004 I’d say) that it feels like a major cause of celebration just to see us going in the right direction again, regardless of how limited that shift may in fact be. Sort of like the United States after Antietam and Guadalcanal, or the British after El Alamein and Mafeking (throw a rare one in for you). The four pieces of news are:
Saddam’s execution. This finally closes a dark chapter in Iraqi, Arab, and world history. No longer can the Sunnis hope and the Shiites/Kurds fear that the Democrats will reinstall Saddam "to make Iraq a better place to live". This has an unknown level of practicality since we have no idea if or how the Iraqi people will react to the releasing of Saddam's ever present grip on their lives. Nonetheless it is a moral victory that will at least remind the other brutal tyrants of the region that it can happen to them (even though we’ve given them every reason not to fear it).
Somalia. The Ethiopian military has thoroughly defeated the Islamic Courts Union in only a week’s time (I do declare they deserve a fourth cheer). Ethiopia has reminded us what a professional military can do to Islamist rabble militias when it is fully unleashed. Hopefully Washington and Jerusalem were watching and took notes. Whichever rotten government takes hold in Somalia next now knows not to work with the Islamists, unless they desire the same fate. Ethiopia has also placed itself in a postion to heavily influence the next government in the right direction since it owes its existence to Ethiopia. If Ethiopia takes advantage of this they can further teach the US and Israel the art of power politics we've forgotten.
Iran. According to The Wall Street Journal, Washington is beginning a campaign to push for tough non-UN economic sanctions on Iran. This follows the UN imposing a series of wrist slapping sanctions on Iran itself. I’m not sure why this new sanctions push would be any more successful than the last ones, but Washington is doing something for a change even if it is pathetically tiny. I shutter to think that I would consider this good news, but the Iran crises is being managed so badly by Washington that I’ll take what I can get these days.
Japan. This news story states that Japan recently researched the steps needed to develop nuclear weapons. If true this would mean Japan is finally throwing off the last vestiges of post-World War II de-normalization. A normal Japan is one of the most, if not the most, important requirements for a stable free world in the 21st Century (old post about it). The sooner they become “normal” the better, and from the looks of it we may not have long to wait. If confirmed and followed up on this would qualify as the best news of the year, but being unconfirmed it'll have to go at the bottom of the best news of the last week of 2006, one of its few good weeks.