Leon Hadar: Burying Pan-Arabism

Roundup: Media's Take

[Leon Hadar is a research fellow at the Cato Institute.]

The uprisings in the Arab World have generated two competing narratives in Washington. The first has the making of a Middle Eastern End-of-History prototype: The Arab embrace of liberal democracy is another chapter in the historical epoch evolving since the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.

The competing narrative—a derivative of the Clash-of-Civilizations paradigm—raises the specter of political Islamist radicalization along the lines of the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Adopting the first narrative generates confidence that democratic reforms may bring to power political players well disposed to the United States and the values it represents. Hence Washington should help accelerate this process through more “engagement” in the form of economic assistance and military backing for the “good guys.”

Ironically, those policymakers and pundits who draw inspiration from the second narrative seem to arrive at similar policy prescriptions. Continuing American intervention in the Middle East is required in order to weaken the power of the “bad guys.”

So it’s not surprising that proponents of the two narratives are calling for forceful U.S. diplomacy to force Libya’s Muhammar Qaddafi out of power and to prevent chaos in that country...

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