In Lenin’s famous dictum, a democratic republic is the ideal political shell for capitalism. Since 1945, no Western strategist has ever disagreed. The Euro-American imperium would prefer in principle to deal with Arab democrats than dictators, provided they were equally respectful of its hegemony. This has rarely proved to be a difficulty in the regions newly democratized since the eighties. Why has the same process not applied in the Middle East and North Africa? Essentially, because the United States and its allies have had reason to fear that, just because of the long history of their imperial violence in the region, and the perpetual exactions of Israel, popular feeling might not deliver comparable electoral comfort to them. It is one thing to rig up a client regime at the point of a bayonet, and round up enough votes for it, as in Iraq. Freer elections are another matter, as Algerian generals and Fatah strongmen discovered.
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