The 2011 Arab Awakening has put the United States in a situation of extreme difficulty, far from solution. After years of democracy promotion in the Middle East, and two wars and other interventions ostensibly producing it—while actually forced to collaborate with the most reactionary Arab regimes to promote Israeli interests—Washington in the past year has found itself saddled with one dilemma after another.
Democratic reform in Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain? Support for Palestinian freedom and autonomy? Well, actually, no. The United States is for democracy in theory but finds tyranny and obscurantist government easier to deal with in practice. That is why Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looks so wan and distraught these days, flying from one country to the next, trying to parse these dilemmas and assure conservative and pro-American friends that all will be well, while she is intelligent enough to understand that their days may be numbered, and they may not meet again this side of the Styx—or its Islamic equivalent.