I hope that our leaders will be modest enough to see how (and how often) what we have done or left undone in the Middle East has backfired on us. We have spent trillions of dollars and spilled untold blood in a seemingly endless effort to bring democracy, American style, to Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet Egyptians ”” citizens of a nation with more people than Iraq and Afghanistan combined ”” won the right to write their own future in just 18 days and with little to no U.S. help.
These facts alone should humble us.
Yet I also hope that we do not trade hubris for paralysis. In the face of the ironies of Egyptian history, I must confess to being tempted to leave things elsewhere in the hands of fate or providence ”” to say with my Muslim friends, “Inshallah,” or with my Christian friends, “Thy will be done.”
But as Niebuhr reminds us, “we must exercise our power.” We must do so, however, in the absence of the hubris that characterized our past foreign policies….