The Corner

How Arab Liberals Failed

From a vitally important column by the Lebanese-American journalist Michael Young:

Amid the joy surrounding the defeat of the Republicans in last week’s midterm congressional elections, I might be forgiven this dissenting observation: With George W. Bush so roundly beaten, don’t expect much American interest, in the foreseeable future and probably beyond that, for liberalism in the Middle East. We’re returning to the days when the United States put its regional hopes mainly in leaders who were reliable thugs.  That’s not to suggest that Bush was particularly consistent in his democratic preaching, or that he formulated his message in the most convincing of ways in Iraq. However, the historic mistake of Arab liberals was to stand elbow to elbow with the despots oppressing them in condemning the American democratic project for the region, instead of exploiting it. Rather than drawing on the Americans’ presence in their midst for their own benefit, far too many of liberals fell back on a restricting cliche that the US was practicing a new form of imperialism.