I saw a pointer today to Ralph Peters’ provocative article, Stability, America’s Enemy. He constructs an intersting argument that defies summarization. I don’t agree with the whole thing, but he does make some points that I think are absolutely correct. He utterly rejects the idea of supporting oppressive regimes and artificial stability. Here’s one of the more interesting bits:
The hardest thing is always to think clearly, to slash through the inherited beliefs that no one ever examines and to defy the wise men who have built careers on exorbitant failures. All people, in every culture, are captive to slogans, but Americans must strive to do a little better. We have made a slogan of democracy abroad, imagining it as a practical means when it is, in fact, the glorious end of a long and difficult road. We speak of human rights, then wink at the mundane evil of Saudi Arabia, the grotesque oppression in China, and any African massacres that don’t leak to the press–because, inside our system of diplomacy, human rights are finally regarded as a soft issue. Yet, sincere and tenacious support for human rights is always good policy in the long term. The oppressor falls, whether in one year or 50, and it is easier to do business with a nation whose freedom struggle you have supported than with one whose suffering you ignored or even abetted.
This comment on the Palestinians (made right before the author inexpicably attempts to justify the Israeli assassination policy) is also dead on:
Nor do the repressive, borrowed-time Arab governments in the region really want to see a successful, independent Palestinian state. The Palestinian struggle is a wonderful diversion for deprived Islamic populations elsewhere, but none of the Arab elites truthfully likes or trusts the Palestinians, who, if they achieved a viable, populist state of their own, would provide an unsettling example to the subjects of neighboring regimes. Arab rulers regard the Palestinians as too unpredictable, too obstreperous, too secular, too vigorous, and much too creative (resembling the Israelis, in fact). As it is, the rest of the Arab world is happy to fight to the last Palestinian, insisting the Palestinians maintain demands unacceptable to Israel.