But everything has an upside, even an apocalyptic war against the forces of darkness. Such a war tends to put everything else in perspective. Conflicts that once loomed large suddenly seem petty and insignificant, and it actually becomes possible to talk about ending them.
In Northern Ireland, the IRA is laying down its weapons, and the first steps toward reestablishing the failed power-sharing government are being taken. And with the Cold War a distant memory, the U.S. and Russia are growing more friendly by the day. Where the Russia of a decade ago bitterly opposed the U.S. military action in the Persian Gulf, today’s Russia has pledged cooperation with the United States in its war on al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The U.S. and Russia are hammering out a plan to slash their remaining arsenals of nuclear warheads by two thirds. And the two nations are even making progress toward renegotiation of the 1972 ABM treaty, an issue over which they were deadlocked just months ago.
Even in the Islamic world, there are signs of hope. In Indonesia (the most populous Muslim nation), a militant fundamentalist who tried to organize anti-American protests on the island of Lombok was chased out by the local officials, who told him that his message of hate and violence wasn’t wanted. And in Iran, demonstrations against the fundamentalist, anti-American government and in favor of the U.S. are increasing, while government-organized demonstrations to commemorate the 1979 seizure of the U.S. embassy were a complete failure — almost no one showed up.
The winds of change are blowing, and some of the changes are very good indeed. We shouldn’t overlook that.

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