The Powers that Be
THE DICTATOR’S LEARNING CURVE:
Inside the Global Battle for Democracy.
By William J. Dobson.
Doubleday. 341 pp. $28.95
“Do these people in Egypt really understand what freedom means?” a well-meaning friend asked Hamed Abdel-Samad after he returned home to Germany from Cairo’s Tahrir Square earlier this year. “Probably not,” the young political scientist, who had witnessed thugs and policemen beating protesters, replied sarcastically. “It would be great if you could come to Egypt with me to teach them your experience with freedom, how you fought for it, how you risked your life, how you came to appreciate it.” Abdel-Samad, who was born in Egypt, said in a radio interview earlier this year that we—by whom he means Westerners—are spoiled by peace, saturated with freedom, and take our inherited liberties for granted. “Right now,” he said, “I can’t see an expression of freedom anywhere that is fresher than in the Arab world.”
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Thomas Rid is a reader in war studies at King’s College London and was a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in 2009. He has coedited Understanding Counterinsurgency (2010) and coauthored War 2.0 (2009), and is the author of War and Media Operations (2007). He is currently at work on a book about deterrence.more from this author >>