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Middle Eastern Liberals
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In this essay on liberal hawkishness, Slate writer Fred Kaplan criticizes Peter Beinart's The Good Fight: Why Liberals--and Only Liberals--Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again.

I thought this paragraph was particularly clueless:

Beinart writes, "The brave Middle Eastern liberals who are fighting for democracy and against Salafism need us. They need our money, our expertise, and our example, just as anticommunist liberals and socialists did in Western Europe more than a half-century ago." The comparison is iffy. America shared the same Enlightenment background--and the same enemy in the Soviet Union--as those Western European liberals, most of whom, by the way, were also heads of state. It's unclear who these "Middle Eastern liberals" are. Certainly they don't occupy positions of political power. In any case, to the extent they do need us, they may not want us and, in many cases, they can't openly say they do. This isn't to say they're not worth seeking out and supporting--only that it's a far more problematic task. Historical appeals to the Marshall Plan and NATO don't really resonate.

Who are the Middle Eastern liberals? Is Kaplan really that fucking clueless?

Does he have Google bookmarked? In Egypt alone, how about blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah, imprisoned for criticizing the government, and Mohammed el-Sharkawi, an Egyptian activist who was picked up by police after attending a political rally and was beaten and sodomized with a rolled up piece of cardboard.

No shit they're not in power and no shit they can't openly say they want help from Europe or America. But Kaplan certainly does seem like a clueless idiot if he doesn't realize that there are people fighting bravely and openly for many of our core ideals (free speech, human rights, etc.) against the Middle Eastern regimes in numerous countries.

His argument basically seems to be, "Well, where are the people who want change in the Middle East? I can't find them so they must not exist. And even if they do exist, they're not like revolutionaries in other countries a long time ago. And even if they were, they probably don't like us and wouldn't want our help. And even if they did, they aren't able to, so we should basically ignore them because the analogy doesn't work all that well."

Kaplan's the kind of writer, the kind of journalist, the kind of supposed thinker, that undermines liberal criticism of our Middle East policy. What a joke.

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