Arab liberals screamed for years about U.S. support for the region’s dictators, writes the opinion editor of the Lebanon Daily Star. Then Bush came along and knocked off Saddam, and what happened? They screamed about imperialism.
Now the same cynical morons who set the hug-a-thug policy are back in charge. And it won’t just be reformists in the Middle East who end up suffering for it.
There are two problems with a return to realism past. The first is that 9/11, whichever way you cut it, was a by-product of that approach. Because militant Islam thrives in repressive Arab societies, because America can only appear more hateful to peoples who see it bolstering their absolute rulers, nothing prevents another terrorist attack against the US. That is the fatal flaw in the realists’ approach. For them 9/11 was a glitch in the international order, albeit a substantial one, an event that should have merely brought retaliatory police action designed to re-establish an equilibrium. Realists were incapable of gauging the importance of ideas, of understanding that militant Islam is perilously eschatological in its ambitions. In their fixation on power, realists never see beyond the dry instruments increasing or lessening power.