A Cairo court has convicted 43 men and women of using foreign funds to foment unrest inside Egypt in connection with the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak.
Sixteen of those convicted were Americans. All but one, Robert Becker of the National Democratic Institute, had already departed. Becker fled this week rather than serve two years in an Egyptian prison.
And U.S. interventionists are in an uproar.
"Appalling and offensive," said Sen. Pat Leahy of the verdicts.
"The 2011 revolution was supposed to end the repressive climate under Mubarak," said The Wall Street Journal of our ally of 30 years whom Hillary Clinton called a family friend.
This "crackdown," decries The Washington Post, was defended with "cheap nationalism and conspiracy theories." As for Egypt's proposed new law for regulating foreign-funded groups promoting democracy, it is "based on ... repressive and xenophobic logic."
Yet the questions raised by both the Cairo and Moscow crackdowns on U.S.-funded "democracy" groups cannot be so airily dismissed.
For these countries have more than a small point.
While U.S.-funded democracy promotion is portrayed as benign, the National Endowment for Democracy, the International Republican Institute, DNI and Freedom House have been linked to revolutions that brought down regimes in Serbia, Ukraine, Georgia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, and nearly succeeded in Belarus.
People who pride themselves on bringing about revolutions should not whine when targeted regimes treat them like troublemakers.
And who directs these "pro-democracy" groups?
Before 2011, Freedom House was headed by ex-CIA Director Jim Woolsey, who says we are in "World War IV." The IRI is chaired by John McCain, who pushed for U.S. intervention in the Russia-Georgia war and is clamoring for air strikes on Syria.
The DNI chairman is ex-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who says: "We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall, and we see further than other countries into the future."
Is it not understandable to patriots of the original "Don't Tread on Me" republic that foreigners might resent paid U.S. agents operating inside their countries to alter the direction of their politics?
We have a right to advance our democratic values, we say.
But for the United States to push, for example, for freedom of speech, press and assembly in the People's Republic of China is to promote political action that must lead to the fall of Beijing's single-party state. Do we not understand why that might be seen by the Chinese Communist Party of Xi Jinping as subversive?