Lexington avviser påstanden om at Bush’ ambisjoner om demokratibygging i Midt-Østen var på sin plass:
Besides, even without Iraq, Mr Bush’s freedom agenda had its flaws. The chief of these was that Mr Bush wanted Arab democracy on the cheap. That is to say, he wanted Arab leaders to empower their people but at the same time to protect America’s strategic interests. That put a limit on how far he dared to push the reliable old autocrats. And, knowing this, the reliable old autocrats thought all they needed to do to stay safely on their perches was to wait Mr Bush out. Moreover, towards the end of his presidency, Mr Bush himself got cold feet. The electoral victories of Hamas in the Palestinian territories and Hizbullah in Lebanon presented him with democracy’s foreseeable but unwelcome corollary, to wit that Arabs granted the gift of freedom might plump ungratefully at the ballot box for America’s bitter enemies.
Debatten berører også Obamas nøling under opprørene i Teheran sommeren 2009:
Compare that, say Mr Bush’s defenders, to what came next. Barack Obama entered office eager to “engage” America’s enemies and repair relations with Islam. So keen was he on engagement that he gave only tepid support to 2009’s “green revolution” in Iran, which the regime went on to crush. As for mending relations with Islam, Mr Obama decided that this required some diffidence. So his own big speech in Cairo stressed that America “does not presume to know what is best for everyone.”
That lack of presumption, the neocons now say, was a grave mistake. It gave the dictators a free pass and put America on the wrong side of the barricades in Tahrir Square. Elliott Abrams, who was a senior adviser to Mr Bush, argues that Mr Obama’s misguided fixation on peacemaking in Palestine made him forget about the millions suffering under the boot of the Arab dictators.