For decades, we, the United States embraced corrupt and repressive autocracies across the Middle East, turning a blind eye to torture and repression in part because of fear that the "democratic rabble" might be hostile to us. Far too often, we were both myopic and just plain on the wrong side.
Here in Bahrain, we have been in bed with a minority Sunni elite that has presided over a tolerant, open and economically dynamic country — but it's an elite that is also steeped in corruption, repression and profound discrimination toward the Shiite population. If you parachute into a neighbourhood in Bahrain, you can tell at once whether it is Sunni or Shiite: If it has good roads and sewers and is well maintained, it is Sunni; otherwise, it is Shiite.
(Nicholas D Kristof, DNA, 22 Feb 2011, Page 17)