Natan Sharansky

was here in Washington yesterday, and RC2 had a spy at one meeting with him. RC2 has been reading his The Case for Democracy. It's a wonderful read --especially his account of the effect Western (especially American) efforts to defend human rights had on him and other dissidents behind the Iron Curtain. She is not finally convinced that the link between freedom and peace and tyanny and terror is quite as direct as the book makes out. Nonetheless, he makes an eloquent case that it is good foreign policy for free nations to boldly defend human rights and democratic principles. (See Gerard Alexander's excellent review in the Claremont Review of Books for a view RC2 more or less agrees with, pending reading the conclusion of the book!)
Sharansky in person is impressive apparently--"a very bright guy" said the jaded spy. Spy also reports that Sharansky was asked to explain the fall of the Shah of Iran. Wasn't the US following his prescription by encouraging democratic reforms then? (This question in the context of Saudia Arabia --what would replace the House of Saud in the event of elections?) Spy felt his answer was more nuanced than the book. He didn't address Iran, but did address current situations. Democracy can't be put in place overnight in some places, he said, but you can start to support structures that will make it possible down the line. Egypt, he thinks, is ready for democracy now; Saudi Arabia has a longer road to travel.