Friday, May 20, 2011

America's Freedom Opportunity in the Middle East

by James L. Jones

Wall Street Journal

May 20, 2011

The events of the Arab Spring provide an unprecedented opportunity for hundreds of millions of people in North Africa and the Middle East to realize greater political and economic freedom, human rights and better lives. For the U.S., too, this is a rare moment in history—perhaps as full of promise and peril as the periods after World War II and the collapse of the Soviet Union. This is a chance for America to be viewed once again as the unique nation: The country most identified with the cause of helping average people, including Muslims, gain freedom and self-determination.

As America confronts these developments, renewed engagement with the political and personal aspirations of those in the developing world becomes more clearly in our interest. Engagement is likely the most ethical and economically efficient way for America to exert positive influence around the world while embracing our core values. Done right, this approach can diminish the potential for new military entanglements and reduce our long- and near-term commitments of money and lives.