Huffpost WorldPost
Sharon Waxman Headshot

Egypt's Revolt: Puncturing the Myth of Arab Immaturity

Posted: Updated:

It's the day after the Egyptian revolution, and now it's time for us in the West to take our man-pill.

Our public posture has always been that we support democracy for everyone, everywhere.

But privately we have never embraced that belief for the Arab world. The Arabs were not mature enough to handle democracy. We would never say this aloud. But it was the conventional wisdom nonetheless, even within the upper echelons of Arab society.

As a geopolitical choice, U.S. governments have long preferred the stability of an autocrat like Hosni Mubarak to the high-risk uncertainty of true democracy.

And not just in Egypt. We are buddy-buddy with repressive self-made royals in the Arabian Gulf. We truck with Morocco, Jordan, and tolerate the tyrants in Syria and Libya. We helped create Saddam Hussein and propped him up for decades.

But the attitude that Arab society is best served by strongmen rather than elections was not limited to American policy-makers. I heard this countless times over my years covering the Middle East; I recall hearing it from a senior Jordanian official more than a decade ago, explaining why King Abdullah (or was it then King Hussein?) was necessary to maintain stability.

Then we invaded Iraq... (read the rest of the post here)