The Arab revolt is history’s unanticipated gift to President Obama. It enables him to move beyond a desultory flirtation with “realism” and to realign U.S. policy toward the Middle East with liberal values that do turn out, after all, to be as attractive to Arabs as they are to Americans.
It’s true that Obama comes late to the region’s dance of democracy. It’s also true that Washington’s embrace of the popular uprisings hasn’t been utterly consistent. But such cavils pale beside the important fact that, however hesitantly and belatedly, Obama is abrogating America’s Faustian bargain with Arab tyrants.
In the short-term, this break with the sterile politics of “stability” could confront U.S. policy makers with complications and some nasty, unintended consequences. Over the long haul, however, reinforcing homegrown demands for economic opportunity, free expression and political pluralism is the best antidote to the region’s endemic misgovernance and convulsive political violence.
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