"Humiliating Our Friends"

Marc Lynch takes a look at the Bush administration's efforts to spread democracy in the Middle East:

The problems with Bush’s approach to democratic reform in the region run deeper than a lack of seriousness or poor execution. The core problem lies in the administration’s clear contempt for Arab public opinion, a contempt which is keenly felt by those Arab moderates who actually share the goals of political, economic and cultural reform. The administration is divided between hawks, who believe that Arabs respect force and can be either browbeaten into submission or else easily repressed by friendly dictators; and neoconservatives, who believe that greater democracy will naturally produce pro-American attitudes. Both theories have been painfully disproven over the last few years, as repeated demonstrations of American strength combined with soaring democracy rhetoric have produced only ever-greater levels of anti-American sentiment. But faced with clear evidence of failure, the administration refuses to change course.


There are a few other good passages in that piece, it's worth reading.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.