Jacqueline Head has an article on the English language Al Jazeera today that poses the question of whether the Arab world is experiencing an “Arab Spring” comparable to the revolutions that swept Eastern Europe in 1989.
…In these days of everybody-gets-a-say, too many U.S. citizens see the Arab world in terms of black and white. Fanatic, anti-American Islamists are bad. American allies are good. But viewed from outside the American bubble, too many American allies are just as evil as their anti-American counterparts.
The crowds that burned U.S. flags in Iran in 1979 didn’t burn them for the same reasons that Al Qaeda attacked the U.S.S. Cole, the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon. They burned U.S. flags because the U.S. supported the Shah.
Every time anti-American Islamic fundamentalism and fanaticism triumph politically, it’s not a victory for Islamists or a defeat for the United States. It’s a disaster for democracy, pluralism, and freedom.
But if the alternative for the Egyptians (or the Pakistanis, or the Tunisians) is an anti-democratic, repressive, and corrupt dictatorship, how the hell does the U.S. expect to win and keep the hearts and minds of anybody — even its own citizens?