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February 20, 2006

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Comments

No Preference

aardvark, just curious. What's your opinion in general of American attempts to manipulate the internal political affairs of countries in the region?

stepanova

Well, Landis admits the difficulty of Syrian opposition figures taking the money without being attacked by the government. I don't know what the Syrian situation is, but I would think also that taking American money would marginalize activists vis-a-vis their fellow citizens.

In Egypt, for example, US support for Saad ad-Din Ibrahim did nothing to improve his reputation or make liberalism more attractive to Egyptians.

No Preference

Sorry if that was too general a question, aardvark. I should have simply stated my opinion.

IMO, all other factors aside, Arabs are likely react badly to American attempts to influence who will lead them. Particularly since we have such a long record of doing just that via coups and invasions.

I also wonder what Americans would think if Saudis, for example, tried to promote particular American candidates. (Which in any case is illegal here).

the aardvark

NP - sorry, lost track of that question. I guess I would basically agree that overt intervention - particularly on behalf of specific political figures - will almost always backfire. But more general reform promotion strikes me as legitimate - especially in countries already receiving large amounts of American economic, military, and political assistance. Since just doing nothing means tacitly endorsing the status quo (and underwriting it), I don't see why the US can't attach strings to its support: we expect a free press, with no journalists ending up dead in a ditch because they exposed government corruption... that sort of thing.

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