When it comes to U.S. interests, democracy is in second place

February 17, 2011

Shibley Talhami's article "Egypt's revolt and America's Role" (Feb. 16) is right on target regarding our government's interest in democracy in the Middle East. Its sudden enthusiasm for the need for democratic reform in Egypt is a good case of how our foreign policy can shift with the wind. Our State Department has previously mentioned the need for the Egyptian government to respond more to the needs the people, but that was about it. No strong demands change were voiced until events in the last two weeks forced us to dramatically raise the volume of our protests. Until now, democracy for the Egyptians or others in the Middle East has been a low priority for both our current and past administrations.

Mr. Talhami states, "The vast majority of the people feel that the primary objectives of American policy in the region are to control oil and protect Israel — not to advance democracy." This viewpoint was definitely confirmed by our government's refusal to accept the results of the 2006 Palestinian election in which the Hamas "terrorists" clearly won over the candidates backed by Israel and the U.S. Democracy took second place to our constant desire to protect Israel's interests, which we have identified as our own for the past six decades.

Samuel Stayton, Columbia

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