What Is More Essential?

Mark LeVine examines the national interest:

If the US is Egypt's primary patron, in Bahrain it is among the ruling family's biggest tenants, as the country is home to the Fifth Fleet, one of the US military's most important naval armadas, crucial to protecting Persian Gulf shipping and projecting US power against Iran. ... The larger question is: What is more essential to American security today, convenient bases for its ships, planes and troops across the Middle East, or a full transition to democracy throughout the region?

It will have to be a balancing act. But the full dichotomy is less extreme than it appears. The base could be moved. What worries me about Bahrain is that the US could get pulled into the Sunni-Shiite conflict. Backing Sunni dictators as the Shiite revival gathers steam does not look like a winning long-term strategy to me.