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Thirty-five years ago, Walesa and Solidarity were instrumental in speeding up the collapse of the Soviet Union and its captive lands in central Asia and Eastern Europe.Not an accident, I say, because these two men who lived in very different times and places captured in their values and actions the universal sentiments of tens of millions of their compatriots, notably the struggle for human freedom, dignity and decency. The analogy with Samir Kassir is relevant because the battles these men fought and led remain alive today for hundreds of millions of people across the Arab world and other societies. The three most important points that I retain from my conversation with Lech Walesa ring familiarly in the current struggle for freedom, stability and legitimacy across the Arab world. In most of the poorer Arab world, several hundred million people suffer these same humiliations, along with serious material deficiencies in education, housing and health care quality, jobs and income, as well as social safety nets.
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