A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, February 28, 2011

Wisdom from Fouad Ajami(!)

Professor Fouad Ajami ( a neighbor of ours since Johns Hopkins SAIS is just across our back alley from MEI) has, in recent decades, been something of a darling of the neocons, since he has long been a critic of certain aspects of the Arab and Islamic worlds. In the neocon pantheon of favorite Middle East experts he hasn't ranked far below Bernard Lewis. But watching him on CNN in recent weeks, his enthusiasm for the revolutionary fervor sweeping the Arab world has been both unmistakable and pretty close to my own. His New York Times op-ed piece, "How the Arabs Turned Shame into Liberty," even contains the following:
There is no overstating the importance of the fact that these Arab revolutions are the works of the Arabs themselves. No foreign gunboats were coming to the rescue, the cause of their emancipation would stand or fall on its own. Intuitively, these protesters understood that the rulers had been sly, that they had convinced the Western democracies that it was either the tyrants’ writ or the prospect of mayhem and chaos.
Amen. Hardly the old neocon argument that we must bring democracy to the Middle East. I'm not sure what the neocons will think of Ajami's recent comments, but I find them refreshing.

1 comment:

David Mack said...

But will the Arab intellectual class ever accept Fouad as one of their own? Self criticism has not been a staple of Arab political debate.