This isn’t meant to be expert opinion or anything, just reflections on some reading I’ve been doing.
I recently finished Noah Feldman’s After Jihad. A great book, especially for me, since I hardly ever pick up books like that (the last book I read about “foreign policy” was We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families), since it helps me put a focus on some of the stuff that I feel day to day.
Anyway, a couple of things that Noah has helped me put together:
1. They’ve been protesting in Egypt since May 25. Has anyone noticed this? I don’t get this listening to talk radio all day, but there is a democratic uprising brewing in Egypt and no one seems to be paying attention. This has to do with Egypt’s president for life (don’t call him a dictator, call him President Mubarak).
2. While the Egyptians are protesting, we’re using Mubarak as our man on the scene for torturing terror suspects. We can’t do that in the United States, but we don’t have any qualms about asking our dictator friends to do it. This is similar to the insanity going on over in Uzbekistan, but at least we’re talking a good game with that particular monster. That probably has something to do with Al Qaeda in Iraq killing the Egyptian envoy.
But, here’s the thing. We talk a good game about building a good and just democracy in Iraq. But, when democratic protests erupt in Egypt, we conspire with their dictator to torture terror suspects because that kind of thing is illegal here in the most free country in the world.
All at the same time, we see from 1999 to the present day, moving East from Serbia, a non-violent revolutionary movement that has successfully overturned non-democratic regimes, most recently in the Ukraine and in Kyrgyzstan. By subscribing to the violent overthrow model, we invite violent reaction. But, as we’re seeing in Egypt and in Lebanon, non-violent protest may very well lead to democratic government in the Muslim world.