REFORM IN THE MIDDLE EAST….Abu Aardvark passes along the conclusions from a recent study about the roots of support for terrorism in the Islamic world:

One set of findings wasn’t surprising, but bears noting: the data consistently show that there is no relationship between levels of personal religiosity and attitudes towards democracy. Such findings should eventually begin to wear down the view that Islam is somehow incompatible with procedural democracy.

But the really interesting part was this: he ran regressions on nine different families of variables ? everything from education to gender to religiosity to income ? to find out what best explained expressions of support for terrorism. None of these shows any stasticially significant relationship. The only independent variables significantly correlated with support for terrorism were “negative views of U.S. foreign policy” and ? and here’s the interesting part ? “negative views of one’s own political system.”

In other words, promoting systemic reform in Middle Eastern autocracies is probably good for the United States. It kills two birds with one stone, so to speak.

The aardvark also has some good words for Karen Hughes in her new role as head of public diplomacy in the State Department. Apparently she’s on the right track.