Democracy From Within

by Patrick Appel

Elliott Abrams delinks Arab democracy efforts from Israel-Palestine:

Arab affairs reflect the internal crises of Arab countries and regimes and are not built around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What has been happening in Tunisia and Egypt is about Tunisia and Egypt. Same for the crisis in Lebanon, recent rioting in Jordan, and other key issues throughout the Arab world (stasis in Algeria, succession in Saudi Arabia, and so on). What unites these events is their relationship to the democracy deficit and to internal social and economic problems, not to Israel.

Greg Scoblete agrees. So do I. But Abrams is countering a point almost no one makes. The position I hear most often is that America's fidelity to Israel damages America's standing in the eyes of the Arab and Persian public. This, the argument goes, lessens America's influence in these countries - which makes it harder for America to form mutually beneficial relationships with these nations. Granted, this argument is often exaggerated and Abrams is certainly correct that events closer to home are much more important.