James Traub in the New York Times Magazine:
In his 2005 Inaugural Address, President Bush traced out the logic of a new, post-9/11 American foreign policy. “For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny,” he declared, violence “will gather . . . and cross the most defended borders” — i.e., our own. Therefore, he announced, “it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.” Thus was born the Freedom Agenda; and Egypt occupied the bull’s-eye on this new target. Egypt was an authoritarian state that had supplied much of the leadership of Al Qaeda. It is also the largest nation in the Arab world and, historically, the center of the region’s political and cultural life. Progress in Egypt’s sclerotic political system would resonate all over the Islamic world. The nearly $2 billion a year in military and economic aid that the U.S. had been providing since the Camp David accords in 1979 offered real leverage. And Egypt’s early experience of democratic government (from 1922 to 1952), mostly under British occupation, and its lively community of democratic and human rights activists gave political reform a firmer foundation than it had elsewhere in the Arab world.