How to Lose Friends and Encourage Extremists

By William Fisher
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Thursday 16 March 2006
One of my proudest moments as an American working in Egypt always came at about this time of year, when the US State Department issued its annual report on the state of human rights around the world.
When this year's Human Rights report appeared last week, I e-mailed it to six of these old friends and asked them for their reactions "off the record."

They had a lot to say, but it all came down to this consensus: The United States had forfeited its right to report on abuses committed by others by committing its own, failing to correct them, and then holding no one in authority accountable. They said they would have expected this behavior in their own countries, but not in mine.
One of the young women I wrote to summed it up this way:

"We're used to the iron fist of government in Egypt. We expect it. We used to have someone we could count on to show our leaders how to lead by setting an example of good governance without the iron fist. It was America. Now that's gone. Now, the only people who are motivated by what America is doing are the very people it's trying to defeat - Muslim extremists."

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