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Islamic Democracy?

by Victor Davis Hanson

The Wave: Man, God, and the Ballot Box in the Middle East, by Reuel Marc Gerecht (Hoover, 148 pp., $19.95); Trial of a Thousand Years: World Order and Islamism, by Charles Hill (Hoover, 170 pp., $19.95)

For much of the post-war era, what is known as the Arab world has been hostile to the United States. Our alliances with the liberal democracies of Western Europe, coupled with leadership of the free world after the war, tarred America with the brush of colonialism and earned us more envy even than clients.

Oil dependency, of course, distorted the relationship. The Gulf exporting sheikdoms were quietly amused at how our so-called liberal principles so easily dissipated when it came time to supply American expertise and security to these illiberal plutocracies. Support for Israel, especially after 1967, enraged the proverbial Arab Street. The Middle East had always proven receptive to totalitarianism, replacing its sympathy in the 1940s for Nazism with Soviet-style statism, as countries as diverse as Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen at various times became clients of Communist Russia.

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