Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Yglesias writes:

To pivot away from the narrow security concern, the other thing we have here is a reminder of the elephant in the room when it comes to Version 3.0 of the Bush Doctrine -- America's strategy for the Middle East is centered on transforming its states into liberal democracies, but our main local partners in this effort are . . . sharia-enforcing hereditary monarchs. Nobody seems to talk about it anymore, but this is obviously dumb. I used to think it reflected insincerity on Bush's part, but insincerity implies that there's some coherent "real" policy that's being implemented behind the make-believe one.

After years of watching, I just don't see what that could be. Instead, I think it's genuine incoherence. But one way or another it's a big deal. And it's an incoherence that goes beyond Bush. The bulk of American elite opinion has switched over to the Bush view that we need to democratize the Middle East, but as we've been seeing in the port controversy the bulk of American elite opinion, like Bush himself, thinks the Arabian peninsula's monarchical elites are wonderful people who we should be supporting to the end. You can't do both. Maybe someday I'll get invited to Davos and learn what's so impressively awesome about Emir so-and-so (fun parties, according to Syriana), but until then I think the American public's gut instinct that these are not, generally speaking, the folks you want to rely on reflects a certain wisdom.

And has a good column on the subject here.