Youssef M. Ibrahim in The Washington Post:
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates.
Listen to the conversations in the cafes on the edge of the creek that runs through this Persian Gulf city, and it is hard to believe that the George W. Bush being praised by Arab diners is the same George W. Bush who has been widely excoriated in these parts ever since he took office. Yet the balmy breeze blowing along the creek carries murmurs of approval for the devoutly Christian U.S. president, whose persistent calls for democracy in the Middle East are looking less like preaching and more like timely encouragement.
Nowadays, intellectuals, businessmen and working-class people alike can be caught lauding Bush’s hard-edged posture on democracy and cheering his handling of Arab rulers who are U.S. allies. Many also admire Bush’s unvarnished threats against Syria should it fail to pull its soldiers and spies out of Lebanon before the elections there next month — a warning the United Nations reinforced last week with immediate effects. For Bush, it is not quite a lovefest but a celebration nonetheless.