More substantively, Madeleine Albright mostly said things that I think are true but also a bit banal (Bush has squandered American power, China’s rise, Iran’s rise, we’ve “paid for mistakes in Iraq,” “Iraq has made everything harder,” UN reform is good, but it’s difficult) but waded into riskier waters with a forthright defense of the view that we should be backing democratic reform — elections — in the Arab world. Crucially, she conceded that “if Arab democracy develops, it will be to advance Arab interests” as understood from an Arab perspective and, in particular, there’s no reason to expect elections to “soften attitudes toward Israel.”
She didn’t follow that up with much in the way of saying how we should be doing those things. Shadi Hamid, for example, thinks the congress should make aid to Egypt conditional on reform. I see some strong arguments on both sides of that issue, and it’d be interesting to hear more people weigh-in on it, since it seems to me that this is certainly the most obvious lever to use if one were to want to put something more than rhetoric behind the idea of Arab reform.