...I honestly don't understand how anyone is able to sustain this fairy tale in their brain, pleasurable though it might be. Is Roger Cohen even aware that, as his own newspaper put it today, "many of the deposed [Arab] leaders were close American allies and partners in counterterrorism operations"? And even that understates the case: these tyrants weren't merely U.S. allies, but stayed in power for decades largely because the U.S. fed them with money, weapons, and training to maintain their grip on their own citizenries -- and continued to do so until their demise became inevitable.
It's one thing for the U.S. Government to "leave unsaid" these uncomfortable facts (and they are facts): that's just standard government propagandizing. And it's another thing for people to defend such conduct on "realist" grounds: that it's wise or at least necessary to keep dictators in place to serve American interests. But it's just extraordinary for a political columnist to proclaim that the same country which has spent decades propping up many of the world's most heinous dictators -- whom we agree not to hate until it's time to wage war on them and then righteous condemnation is suddenly unleashed against all their alleged sins (Saddam pulled babies from incubators, gassed his own people and had rape rooms!; Gadaffi's son abused his domestic servant!!) -- is devoted to freedom-spreading as a core "value." In light of this long and overwhelming history, in what conceivable sense can it be said that removing dictators is a "value" of the U.S. or that it is "dedicated" to a "universalist idea of freedom"?
The world is as flat as a Mobius strip, and as free as the Company.