JAMES Fenton is right to lament the Obama administration's incoherent response to regime change in Egypt, but wrong about the rest of the US. Neoconservative intellectuals have robustly criticised the President for having abandoned his predecessor's freedom agenda. Had autocratic allies been pressed harder on internal reforms and liberalisation, they argue, the US may not risk losing the Middle East today.
Fenton's assault on America's response is also unfair as it implies other Western countries have done better. In fact, some senior European officials, past and present, were regular guests of the Egyptian and Tunisian regimes, taking all expensespaid holidays on the Nile or in Djerba; only now have these frequent flyers discovered democracy. When Obama spoke in Cairo in 2009, he at least talked about democracy and human rights. By contrast, Baroness Ashton's 2010 speech at the Arab League's Cairo headquarters mentioned freedom only once -- Palestinian national freedom. Europe always threw its weight behind the tyrants, never challenging the old Arab nationalist argument that Palestinian independence trumpeted Arab freedoms. And despite the decades of wisdom dispensed by regional experts in European universities and thinktanks, EU governments were caught as unprepared as Washington by the events of the past month.
Emanuele Ottolenghi, Foundation for Defense of Democracies EGYPT and Tunisia have inspired a huge thirst for accountability and justice in Middle Eastern countries. …