Was George W. Bush right all this time about how to produce more democracy in the Arab world? That's the question even many critics of the administration have been asking themselves as they've watched the recent moving events in the Middle East. Iraqis casting their first free vote in decades. Palestinians electing a leader who is taking steps to make peace with Israel after the death of Yasir Arafat. Egypt's one-party ruler committing himself to multiparty democracy. And the people of Lebanon rising up to demand Syria's withdrawal after their former prime minister was killed in a terrorist attack widely linked to Damascus. In our cover story, Fareed Zakaria argues that Bush's post-9/11 campaign for political freedom in the Muslim world has clearly helped drive the wave of progress, though it doesn't excuse multiple missteps in the run-up to and aftermath of the Iraq war. Looking ahead, Christopher Dickey sees heartening signs, too, but also evidence that people power may not always produce results that America can control or will welcome.

As the president fights to save his proposal for private Social Security accounts, Holly Bailey reports on how the White House micromanages Bush's public campaign. We have an inspiring look at U.S. soldiers who have lost limbs in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet are still set on returning to the front. And Mark Starr profiles Bode Miller, the colorful superstar of American skiing who is one of our best hopes for gold at the 2006 Turin Olympics.

We received a lot of negative press coverage--and quite a few questions from readers--about our cover last week. Seeking an image that would capture our take on the story--that Martha Stewart is emerging from prison in a much stronger position than anyone expected--we asked artist Michael Elins to create a humorous photo illustration of Stewart coming back looking better than ever. We identified the result as a photo illustration on our table of contents, and thought the combination of exaggerated imagery and cover line "Martha's Last Laugh" would make clear that it was playful visual commentary, not a real picture of Stewart or an attempt to simulate one. But we quickly realized that it wasn't obvious to many of you at all. For that, we sincerely apologize. We would never seek to deceive our readers and are committed to respecting the integrity of serious news photography. To avoid confusion in the future, starting this week we will identify the origin of our main cover image in a credit on the cover itself.