Should the U.S. ever oppose democracy?

Those were my doubts. Insofar as they seemed to justify an exception to my strong preference for the universalism of the democratic ideal, they were a moral embarrassment. But in recent months I have become increasingly convinced by another consideration. It is that the Muslim Brotherhood’s surest road to power in Egypt lies in the absence of any political reform. It is Mubarak who, by alienating his people and denying their rights, will bring the worst to pass. We have been here before. I still recall the catastrophic fall of American policy toward Iran in 1979. We had looked away, and condoned, and prevaricated, and excused—and only when it was too late, when the Shah was gone—what did it matter that he was a friend of the United States and a friend of Israel, if he doomed those friendships by his manner of governance?—and Khomeini’s mobs were taking over the streets—only then did we seek an alternative. Now I have the sickening feeling that if the United States continues to acquiesce in Mubarak’s tyranny, we will soon be searching Cairo for its Bakhtiar, and then wondering who lost Egypt.

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