This massive disconnect between the views of Arab governments and the views of Arab people is nothing new. What is new is the right’s perspective on it. A few years back, when Wehner worked in the Bush White House, the Arab world’s democratic deficit was a conservative obsession, and one of the justifications for the Iraq war. (As it was for liberal hawks like me). Now, when a few Arab tyrants endorse war with Iran—in flagrant defiance of their people’s will—Wehner declares that they speak for “most of the Arab world.”
The reason, I suspect, is that it is becoming harder and harder to claim, as Bush did in his second inaugural address, that “America’s vital interests”—at least as defined by conservatives—and America’s “deepest beliefs”—democracy—“are now one.” Much of the foreign policy right believes it is in America’s interest to attack Iran in hopes of delaying its nuclear program. But the people of the Arab world vehemently disagree. And so, if Iranian democracy activists are to be believed, do the people of Iran. That means, as Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently noted, that a military strike will likely entrench Iranian tyranny. Too bad, say the former democracy-crusaders of the American right.