Pro-Israel think-tanker urges next U.S. president to prioritize Middle East democracy
By Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Passionate Attachment
September 26, 2012
Notwithstanding the widespread and obstinate belief that the so-called “Arab Spring” threatens Israel, it seems clear that Haim Saban—the Egyptian-born Israeli-American media mogul who established the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution specifically to advance Israeli interests—favors more, not less, “democratization” in the region. In a Campaign 2012 policy brief entitled “Prioritizing Democracy: How the Next President Should Re-Orient U.S. Policy in the Middle East,” Shadi Hamid, director of research at the affiliated Brookings Doha Center, recommends:
Active and consistent support for democratic change in the Arab world—even if it means occasionally angering long-standing allies—is important for a number of reasons. First, it aligns American policy with regional trends that are irreversible. Instead of being caught unaware once again, the United States should anticipate the changes to come—and recognize that the region is growing more, not less, democratic. It means little to support the demands of protesters after they have already won. It will send a much stronger signal to the region’s future leaders if Washington encourages and defends them when it is not easy and when their victory is far from a foregone conclusion.
The remaining autocratic regimes in the Jewish state’s neighborhood can’t say they haven’t been warned.
As for those charged with making U.S. policy, they should ponder the astute question posed in a recent column by Patrick Buchanan:
If the probable or inevitable result of dethroning dictator-allies is to raise to power Islamist enemies, why help dethrone the dictators?