Middle East Notes and Comment: Muslim Networks
June 21, 2007
Sitting in Washington, it is easy to lose touch with the world. Comfortable with understandings and contacts nurtured over decades, one can get taken by surprise. September 11 was an instance of one such surprise; most Middle East and security experts knew about al-Qaeda, but few thought the organization could be such a deadly foe. Another surprise was the depth of difficulties that the United States encountered as it pushed for democracy in the Middle East—an effort that, in retrospect, relied far more on U.S. hopes and good intentions than a clear understanding of how Arab governments actually work.