We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
... no matter what establishment voices assert intervention in foreign lands in a ham-handed fashion to prop up our American values is bound to lead us down a path of tears. As Shadi Hamid states the future of democracy in the Middle East is going to be illiberal. This may be inevitable. We don’t need to avert our eyes from it, and we need to acknowledge that so we were, so they will be. It took the Thirty Years war to finally purge the enthusiasm of sectarianism from the cultural DNA of Europeans (and even then, religious minorities were second class citizens for centuries). There will be no calm reasoning with Iraqis of any stripe because the march of history continues, and only sadness can convince all parties that moderation is necessary for the existence of modern nation-states. Intervention in some fashion may be inevitable in the world, but our goal should be to prevent hell, not to create heaven on earth. The former is possible, the latter is not.
I've always considered Zakaria an erudite jackass so I'm suspicious of this book already.
He seems to make the point that fostering "liberal" representative governments in places like the middle east is a fool's errand, not just something difficult to do, but I contend that it is not a fool's errand but "merely" extremely difficult, time consuming, and expensive and made much more difficult because of 1) the desire for immediate gratification and 2) the hostility to the idea in the first place by the multicultural left (who are really not that sold on popular republican government in the form of the US in the first place).
Japan and South Korea had no history of representative government yet because of western intervention at the end of WWII and the Korean War, embraced representative forms of government. It took decades but it was achievable. In my mind, the question really is how bad do we want that in the middle east. Given the larger environment there, we (and many allies) would have to want it really badly. Bush may have miscalculated how easy it would be to achieve that in Iraq (though he can be forgiven somewhat after seeing the glee the people showed when they voted), but he also may have miscalculated how much we in the West wanted it. Many of us have forgotten why we went there in the first place (partly to deny terrorists a friendly government to help sponsor terrorism) and it seems an equal number have decided that 9/11 isn't anything we really have to worry about now.
I'm not arguing that Bush was necessarily correct, but that he was reasonable.