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The threat to liberal values (liberal in the philosophical sense) coming from right-wing populism is pretty unconvincing considering that the self-appointed gatekeepers of those values, from EU technocrats to Thomas Friedman to Emmanuel Macron, have pretty well opposed all secularism and republicanism in the Middle East for decades while simultaneously championing the Gulf monarchies. If you compare human rights abuses between places like Iran and Syria (pre civil war) on the one hand, and Saudi Arabia and Qatar on the other, it’s a wash. Sure Iran is a theocracy, but it’s a republican theocracy, meaning they’ve fundamentally adopted western thought into their state. Doesn’t that count for anything Mr. Friedman? Nothing the monarchs do seems to matter, but the world is close to over because Hungary, Poland, and Italy embrace some mild illiberalism. Trump can be a mixed bag. Those liberal thought leaders love him when he passes tax cuts, bombs Syria and threatens Iran, but we also have the ongoing Russia freakout, NATO skepticism, tariffs, etc. I’m not one of those edgy leftists who poo-poos liberal values, I think they very much need to be defended, we just need better people defending them.

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