Advancing a Free Society

The Arab Winter Approaches

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The revolutions against Arab autocracies—dubbed the “Arab Spring”—have been greeted in America with bipartisan celebration. To President Obama, the uprising in Egypt reflected the yearning of Egyptians for “the same things that we all want: a better life for ourselves and our children, and a government that is fair and just and responsive.” Visiting Libya after the fall of Gaddafi, Senator John McCain enthused, “[Libyans] have paid an enormous price for their freedom,” and have earned “a chance for all Libyans to know lasting peace, dignity, and justice.” And Senator Joseph Lieberman wrote in Foreign Affairs, “Throughout the Middle East, we see the narrative of violent Islamist extremism being rejected by tens of millions of Muslims who are rising up and peacefully demanding lives of democracy, dignity, economic opportunity, and involvement in the modern world.”

This enthusiasm confirms the dominant narrative that explains both the causes of jihadist terror and the solutions to the problems that have given rise to it. President George W. Bush articulated that account in his second inaugural speech: “For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny—prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder—violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.”

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