George w. bush assumed the presidency at a time of high hopes for democracy and human rights. The death of communism a decade earlier, according to political philosopher Francis Fukuyama, meant "the end of history", that liberal democracy had triumphed worldwide. Once democracy took root in Iraq, it would spread across the region. Many people in Iraq did want self-rule and braved brazen threats to cast their votes. But most Iraqis voted along sectarian lines. The largest group, Shiia Muslims, dominated the new government. Since democracy requires not just majority rule but also respect for minorities, Saddam's successors got off to a bad start. The foundations for a functioning democracy are lacking in most Arab countries. The Arab world may need its own version of the Protestant Reformation, but no "Martin Luther" is in sight. Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands aggravates the conditions inimical to democracy and human rights and undermines US efforts to reform the region.