So imply the signatories of this letter (.pdf), including Peter Beinart and Robert Kagan, as well as folks from the Islamic Society of North America (the unindicted co-conspirator in the Hamas funding trial) and the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, which has long advocated for the Muslim Brotherhood. While the letter says it is under embargo, the Center of the Study of Islam and Democracy posted it early on their website.
I would certainly agree with the letter until this paragraph:
In many countries, including Turkey, Indonesia, and Morocco, the right to participate in reasonably credible and open elections has moderated Islamist parties and enhanced their commitment to democratic norms. We may not agree with what they have to say, but if we wish to both preach and practice democracy, it is simply impossible to exclude the largest opposition groups in the region from the democratic process. At the same time, to reduce the future of the region to a contest between Islamists and authoritarian regimes would be a mistake. Promoting democratic openings in the region will give liberal and secular parties a chance to establish themselves and communicate their ideas to the populace after decades of repression which left them weak and marginalized. More competition between parties of diverse ideological backgrounds would be healthy for political development in the region.
It is true that for too long, liberal and secular parties have been squeezed by nominal U.S. allies like Egypt and Tunisia. But they have been victims not only of authoritarian regimes, but also Islamist parties. If the authoritarian regimes have the mechanisms of the state to support them, the Islamist parties have their network of mosques. Those left out in the cold are the liberals. But, embracing the Islamists won’t break that dynamic. It is also naive to equate the Muslim Brotherhood’s rhetoric of democracy with committment to democracy. One only need to look at Turkey to see how the Islamist backsliding on democracy is propotional to consolidation of power: Cracking down on the media, packing the bench, police harrassment, erosion of women’s rights, etc. The letter is all the more troubling since several of the signatories have condemned any U.S. support for independent civil society, such as the $20 million designed for Iranian democracy programs.