Lessons from Egypt: Does Safety Trump Democracy?

Why strict realism and neoconservative idealism have failed us overseas

Photo-Illustration by Stephen Kroninger for TIME; Mubarak: Khaled Dedouki; Karzai: Raveendran; AFP/Getty Images (2)

There was some awful news from Afghanistan last week, overlooked in the midst of Egypt's tectonic eruption. Kabul Bank is near collapse. Apparently the owners — who include President Hamid Karzai's brother Mahmood and other assorted political cronies — had, among other nefarious activities, taken the bank's assets and speculated in Dubai real estate, which promptly crashed. The Afghan government does most of its business through Kabul Bank; if the bank fails, the government won't be able to pay its workers, including the army. Millions in international aid may be washed away.

And so, a familiar dilemma: Bail...