But should America tell other countries who their leaders should be? It wouldn’t be difficult to find a fewhundredpunditswho contend that President George W. Bush, when he unseated Saddam Hussein, inadvertently set Iraq on fire. In fact, they argue, that’s how we got into this mess in the first place. (Really, it couldn’t have been the radical ideologies, rogue states, and deep-seated anti-Americanism that characterized the region for decades.)
Those same pundits would also argue that Bush’s democracy agenda was wrong-headed. After all, we can’t go around imposing democracy on countries that haven’t built up the institutions to support them. As one Brookings Institution scholar noted, it’s a “delusion.” And that doesn’t even begin to address what has been described as the racistor colonialistunderpinnings of such ventures.
Fine. Let’s scratch regime change and democracy promotion in Saudi Arabia. Perhaps we should just cut off arms sales. Plenty of smart people are callingfor that right now. Yes, the Saudis have agreed to buy $100 billionin American weapons, and that could translate to more jobs and prosperity. But money isn’t everything. We can tough it out. Just like we could probably tough out surging oil pricesif the Saudis decide to curtail production in response to tougher American policies.
Let’s admit it. This sounds scary, too. In fact, all of it does.