Now that it's preferred dictators have been overthrown in Egypt and Tunisia -- and with a little more active participation, Libya -- the West finally is seen as cozying up to the idea that Islamists are people the US and its lackeys can deal with:
Trust Tunisia | Reuters: "“One of the shifts that hasn’t been talked about is how much more the West is willing to accept the reality of a political landscape in places like Tunisia and Egypt that will include the existence of Islamist groups,” said Dalia Mogahed, the director of the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center, which polls public opinion across the Middle East. “The West has realized that it isn’t up to us to decide whether they can run.”"Is this really, really that much of a surprise?
After all, the US is mainly interested in control, and it can exert control either by controlling a dictator directly like Mubarak, or absent that, a perfectly workable arrangement can be worked out with fundamentalist sorts -- like the Taliban -- who the US instructed Pakistani intelligence to bring to power as a result of the Afghan civil war in the 1990s.
The primary idea seems to be -- has been since the good old days of the Cold War -- that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. If fundamentalists were against modern movements like trade unionism, and opposed leftist political organizations, they were worthy of CIA support.
The US will be perfectly all right if hardline Muslim states come to replace the shaky dictatorships that have been the model of progress in the Arab world, as far as the US is concerned.
The only system that the US cannot abide is real pluralism, free elections and governments who are subservient to the will of the people. That's a system, after all, that is not allowed to exist in the US or our closest European and Asian allies -- people can be 80 percent opposed to government policies (TARP, Iraq war) and they are enacted anyway.
Why should we expect any less from our new friends in the MENA countries?