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May 06, 2008


Saeed Uri

Sounds like it could be an interesting book. I will probably pick it up because this is something that I am especially interested in.


Mrs. Wittes, why are you plugging your book if we can't get copies of it? Barnes & Noble doesn't have any, Amazon has only a handful, and I don't see it listed in my local library catalog.


Let's see:

1) The US government isn't supporting democracy in the Arab world,

2) Pinochet did not help Chile's economic growth.

Aside from not knowing WTF you're talking about, or being a liar, pretty good.

Have you ever considered working for AEI? I think that they're more your style.



Tamara Cofman Wittes

Thanks for your interest!

Amazon does have copies, and has been shipping them quickly.
B&N has some here:
But if you want to avoid the retailers, you can also order online from Brookings at this address:
-- just click the blue "ORDER" button on the right.



At least one reviewer offered the opinion that Ms. Wittes' book was not "trapped in the Beltway straitjacket," but some kind of restraint seems to be involved here.

As always, we need to start with the idea of America's "crucial interests in the Arab Middle East" and ask ourselves, crucial compared to what? What are they exactly, and where do they rank in the hierarchy of American interests overseas? What commitment of resources should they command -- resources of money, of military strength, of senior government officials' time? What, in short, is in this region for us? Ms. Wittes appears to assume that the answers to all these questions are self-evident. I don't see that any of them are.

I'd be the first to agree that Arab democracy, like world-class English wine or a Japanese Michael Jordan, would be nice. I'm all for encouraging it. At the moment, though, the salient problem in American foreign policy is how to reduce the grotesquely disproportionate commitment of American resources of men, money and attention to this part of the world.

Arab countries are undemocratic primarily because of Arabs, not because of American government policy. It may be that if we resolve to continue the current administration's neglect of our other interests around the world for long enough, we could eventually change some Arabs enough to make them want to accept democracy. I can see why that might be of some advantage to them. Why is it worth what it would cost us?


"...and how the United States can pursue that goal while protecting its other interests in the region."
And what are those exactly? Is Arab democracy really seen by Israel or the US as in their interest (as those interests are commonly defined)? M..J. Rosenberg is on record saying otherwise.
Zionists for Nice Arabs! Rilly...

And the comments as as absurd as the post.

"Arab countries are undemocratic primarily because of Arabs, not because of American government policy."
May I suggest a some reading?

saint paul guy

I dare say, should some form of democracy flower in the Middle East, it will be full of people quite repellent to the political class. Not at all how they envision; in no way pliable, complacent natives.

The expected expressions of deep respect and admiration for our government and leaders might not be forthcoming.

How shocking would that be?

Could we stomach it?

Do we have the political and cultural maturity to accept that Iran has more democracy on a bad day that most of the Arab Middle East combined? That future free and fair elections are likely to permanently set in power the likes of Hamas and Hezbolla? That these political groups are indeed representing the hopes and aspirations of their people? That the people who would vote for them know exactly what they want?

Is it so surprising that others have dreams that we cannot imagine?


At this point, the main thing it would seem we can do is stand back and stay out of it. Hard to get a book out of that, I know.
these are the tropes that America and its Arab allies must confront and seek to contain.

How? With al-Hurra? How many Arab liberalizers have to tell yall, "Thanks, now please get away from me" before you listen?


Tamara Wittes, of the Saban Center.
Here's Saban.
Lovely. Just lovely.

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