Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Michael Young reviews Joshua Muravchik

Young writes of Muravchik’s new book:
Mr. Muravchik's group portrait helps to counter an idea that is gaining ground -- that Western governments must engage Islamists to better advance Western aims. He asks that we spare a thought for the fragile liberals who would pay a high price if international legitimacy were to shift decisively to autocratic religious parties.

Mr. Muravchik might have said more about why Western states should support liberals, in all their vulnerability. Take the Syrian dissident Ammar Abdulhamid. Audacious and articulate, Mr. Abdulhamid abandoned a life of privilege in Syria (he is the son of a famous actress) and chose exile in the U.S. so that he could give full force to his criticism of the Assad regime. Yet like many of those described by Mr. Muravchik, he has committed himself to a liberal ideal, and sacrificed a great deal, in return for very little so far. When Western governments revert to so-called reasons of state -- where "realism" and supposed self-interest often triumphs -- Middle Eastern liberals become a vanguard easily discarded.

The Middle East does not need generations of democratic practice to absorb democracy. That argument, beloved of political realists, is a convenient device for allowing the U.S. to spurn a pro-democracy agenda, which is often seen as undermining national interests. It is an argument that Mr. Muravchik convincingly dismisses. But "The Next Founders" might have itself argued more strongly that, by ignoring what liberalism there is in the region, the U.S. not only abandons a part of itself; it also makes more likely the proliferation of violent Islamists pining to take revenge against America, the too-frequent defender of their despotic tormentors.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Slow Going, Elsewhere

Been pretty bogged down at work, and with my move to Edinburgh just around the corner, I have not had a great deal of time to sit in front of the computer and write.

Here are some folks who have been writing interesting pieces as of late.

Democracy Promotion and the Obama Doctrine - The New Centrist

Imprisonment, torture, death, and life - Airforce Amazons

Green Thursday - Bob from Brockley

Iranian Regime Loves Locking up Young Women - Martin in the Margins

The Future of Iraq, Part 3 - Michal Totten

Saeed Rahnema: For Progressive Solidarity, Against The "Reactionary Left." - Terry Glavin

Overcoming Defencelessness - The Contentious Centrist

Burmese Dissidents Worry About Junta’s Purchases of North Korean Weapons - One Free Korea

F$@#*N$ Wit Da Teacha - Thomas Gibbon

She Broke the G.O.P. and Now She Owns It - Frank Rich

Obama curiously rigid at all the wrong times - Thomas McClanahan

Hungarian fascists redux - Adam Holland

Enduring Nonsense - Daniel Mandel