Lebanese journalist Hanin Ghaddar argues that, in its quest for détente with Iran, America has abandoned its decades-long policy of promoting democracy and human rights in the region:
Democracy, freedom, self-determination, [and] human and individual rights are values that Arab liberals like myself thought we shared with the United States. That’s what you told us. For years, we’ve . . . been preached to by visiting American diplomats and think-tankers and journalists about the virtues of citizenship and democracy. We took plenty of notes. We’ve been told that if we speak out to defend our rights, we will be supported by America. And now we’ve been betrayed.
For many liberal Arab citizens like me, it looks like the United States is now taking sides in a sectarian conflict and turning a deliberate blind eye to violations of rights and values which are supposedly the core of what the United States represents. The United States is siding with the Shiites against the Sunnis. It is helping Assad, Hizballah, and other allies of Iran stay in power. . . .
Reality now tells us that today’s America does not care about our aspirations for freedom, for democracy, and for citizenship. The reality today says one thing: take things into your own hands because no one will help you. The gap left by the United States will be filled with extremists who despise liberal ideas, freedom of speech, and democracy. Whatever is left of our civil society will eventually lose legitimacy, because its ideals and goals will be considered too liberal and Westernized for communities radicalized by sectarian tension. The people who will emerge from the societies that are formed along this sectarian model will not be good citizens of open societies. They will be locked in cages of hatred and fear. We know from experience how that story turns out.