LOPEZ: Are there any good, realistic solutions for the Middle East and our relationship to it?
McCARTHY: The Middle East is a very complex, difficult region, and anyone who pretends to have silver-bullet answers to what we should do is deluding himself and the rest of us. The best solution for us is to be realistic, not pretend enemies are friends, and forget about being loved, admired, or emulated because it’s not going to happen — not any time soon. I’m not an isolationist, and it is impractical to withdraw from a region where America has important interests. But we do not need to be nearly as involved as we are. We need to act forcefully, to lead, and, when it is necessary, to act. But when it is not in our interests to act, and particularly when, in acting, we may empower our enemies, we should stay our hand.LOPEZ
: Is there a way to support real democratic elements abroad?
McCARTHY: Yes. Support our American principles of liberty and equality of opportunity, and unambiguously condemn sharia’s attempted suppression of speech. Real democratic elements are negligible now, and they are never going to thrive while we are empowering our enemies. No one in Egypt is more disappointed in the United States than real democrats who cannot believe that, under the guise of “democracy,” the U.S. has embraced the Muslim Brotherhood, which — if we’re talking about a culture of liberty — is about as undemocratic as it gets.
LOPEZ: What do you hope for this e-book?
McCARTHY: I hope it will be an antidote to the “Arab Spring” narrative. And I hope it makes a contribution to the discussion about American national security and what a desirable “democracy project” would look like. Those are crucial issues, and discussion about them in the presidential campaign has been scant. I think that will change, though. In the end, national security is the reason we have a federal government, and the world has a way of reminding us of that fact.
— Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online.