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March 14, 2007



I had no idea you were into Buffy! If I had known, back in the day before I graduated, I would have invited you over for my weekly Buffy nights! The things you learn about your professors...

Wanted to also send belated congratulations and happy birthday to your little one. My husband (another Williams grad, but class of 98) and I are expecting our first in 3 weeks.


Congratulations Annaliis!!! Boy, now I'm really starting to feel old... my students are having kids?


Mr. Aardvark,

You wrote, "A principled American defence of political freedoms, human rights, and democracy wouldn't be convenient given the unpopularity of its agenda, but would strengthen moderates against rising extremists."

That is an interesting statement, and I would very much like to believe that it's true, but I'm not so sure that it is. Based on all I have read, greater democracy would lead to greater empowerment and institutionalization of Islamic fundamentalism in most of the Middle East, as opposed to strengthening moderate Muslims as you claim. But I would be most interested to know why you believe as you do, so if you (or any of your readers) could cite some sources to back up your claim I would really appreciate it. Thanks. (Really, if you can cite any books or other sources that support your view, I really would take the time to read them. Thanks again.)


expat98 - well, what's the alternative?

whatever you'll say -- backing friendly secularist dictators, backing friendly non-secularist dictators, or trying to install secular democracy by force -- i'm afraid it's been tried.


Hi Alle - I don't have an agenda here, and I'm not suggesting anything that the U.S. should do or not do. I was just asking about Mr. Aardvark's statement that I quoted above. Admittedly I am not an expert on the M.E., but I do read things from a wide variety of sources and viewpoints, and based on most of the things I've read, what he said is simply not true. So I was wondering if he could point me to any information to back up what he said.


Hi Expat98 - I hope you don't just think I'm ducking your question, but I'm afraid that it's too big a question to deal with in a comments section.. it's an entire tutorial on Middle East politics, democratization theory, and the balance of forces in places like Egypt which I just don't have the time or energy to engage in right now. But since I've been writing on these issues for years, feel free to scan my archives on relevant topics to get many, many links to the supporting evidence.

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