The Compass

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Iraq and the Arab Spring

iraqpullout.jpg

There's been plenty of rending of garments and gnashing of teeth over the Obama administration's announcement that U.S. troops would be leaving Iraq. The principle line of complaint seems to be that the Obama administration didn't find a clever way to make an end-run around Iraq's democracy to keep substantial number of combat troops in the country (there will still be an Army Division-sized contingent of guns-for-hire under State Department command).

One could point out the hypocrisy of those who once hailed the birth of Iraqi democracy now complaining about the will of the Iraqi government, but I think this is also a very clear harbinger of where the Arab Spring is going - if it does indeed succeed at replacing despots with democrats.

In other words, it's going to almost impossible in the short-run to have a strategic relationship with many democratic countries in the Middle East of the kind that would satisfy the demands of sustaining U.S. hegemony in the region. The curious dynamic of the Arab Spring in the U.S. is that many of those who would champion U.S. hegemony in the region are also cheering on the revolutions. It seems increasingly clear that, in the short-run at least, the U.S. is not going to have both.

(AP Photo)