Kanan Makiya described the Baath system in Iraq as a “republic of fear.” Such regimes are bellicose by design: they can be counted upon to wage war against their peoples and their neighbors. These dictatorships turn their subjects into what Natan Sharansky has called “fear societies.” Our obligation, in such cases, should be self-evident. ~Martin Kramer

Really?  Why is it our obligation, and what makes it self-evident?  An obligation to whom?  Based on what?  If the best that could be hoped for in a post-Hussein Iraq was the sort of “multi-polar” nightmare we have before us, what exactly was our “self-evident” obligation?

Kramer says later:

If they’re not made free, they’ll destroy us; but if they’re made free too quickly, they might destroy themselves, and take us with them.

If we must use such vague generalisations, here’s another idea: whether or not “they” are free does not really matter to “us,” provided that “we” stop being closely involved in “their” affairs.  “They” do not have it in “their” power to destroy “us.”  Even if “they” destroy “themselves,” “they” do not have the means to take “us” down with “them.”  This, like so many of Prof. Lewis’ policy recommendations in the Near East, is just so much malarkey.  Mr. Kramer would seem to support the same policy goals based on exactly the same flawed premises.  It is only by comparison with Mr. Bush’s mad Prague speech in which he preaches the inevitability of freedom’s triumph that it seems at all grounded in a realistic appraisal of regional politics.