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How Should the U.S. Respond to the Protests in the Middle East?

Author: Ed Husain, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies
January 30, 2011
Washington Post

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Arabs regularly accuse America of flagrant hypocrisy: The United States claims that it stands up for freedom and democracy and yet supports the world's most tyrannical governments in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. The current popular uprising is a chance to set the record straight. Former secretary of state Condoleeza Rice once quipped that America had traded freedom for stability in the region and got neither.

I've lived and traveled across the Arab world and witnessed the vast popularity of American clothes, Hollywood, McDonald's, baseball caps, cars and books. Visa applications overload U.S. embassies. Yet double standards in U.S. foreign policy anger young Arabs and fuel radicalization and terrorism. By proudly supporting the freedom chanters today, America has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help undermine terrorists and tyrants and support the people. So far, Vice President Biden has blundered by supporting Egypt's dictator. This needs to change.

The Arab world is no longer across the oceans. It is also on our streets here. Millions of American citizens are of Arab descent. Millions more are here as workers and students. What happens over there matters here. Can America make these people proud and empower them against Muslim extremists by changing the American story and making us all safer? Yes, it can. It must.

This article appears in full on CFR.org by permission of its original publisher. It was originally available here.

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