To the Editor:
Re "What Egypt Can Teach America," by Nicholas D. Kristof (column, Feb. 13):
It is appropriate to criticize an American policy that ignores our values of democracy and freedom. For too long our main allies in the region, excluding Israel, did not represent our values.
At the same time, we must avoid a pendulum swing to the other side, focusing only on our values and ignoring our interests. American foreign policy is at its best when values and interests are brought into sync.
In the case of Egypt, we must do everything we can to support emerging democracy there and, as Mr. Kristof points out, the nonviolent character of the uprising gives hope for the future.
However, nobody can say with any certainty what the next days and months will bring for Egypt and the region. We should not underestimate the threat to true democracy from Islamic extremism. We ignore at our peril the examples in recent decades in which democratic frameworks have been hijacked by the Islamic extremists in Iran, Lebanon and Gaza.
If this is a time when American foreign policy truly takes into account both our ideals and our interests, then much will be gained beyond events in the Middle East.
Robert G. Sugarman