Freedom's Unsteady March: America's Role in Building Arab by Tamara Cofman Wittes

By Tamara Cofman Wittes

President George W. Bush meant to deliver democracy to the center East, however the early effects have been dispiriting. After stalemate in Iraq and the electoral good fortune of Hamas, many observers concluded that the pursuit of Arab democracy was once a fool's errand. regardless of those setbacks, Tamara Cofman Wittes argues that democracy merchandising within the Arab global continues to be a vital part of any technique to in achieving long term American ambitions in that serious quarter. A unstable mixture of growing to be populations, monetary stagnation, and political alienation poses a significant possibility to balance in brand new center East. those forces are critically checking out the legitimacy and governability of key states resembling Egypt and Saudi Arabia, proscribing their skill to paintings with the us on neighborhood priorities similar to stabilizing Iraq and scuffling with terrorism. Freedom's Unsteady March exhibits why the United States can't have the funds for to be impartial or passive within the face of the momentous adjustments happening in Arab states and why it needs to wield its strength and impression in aid of democratic reform. Wittes additionally dissects the Bush administration's failure to strengthen freedom within the center East. She diagnoses the roots of America's ambivalence approximately Arab democracy, and exhibits the right way to confront extra in truth the dangers of switch and act extra successfully to comprise them.

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The lack of protest from Washington demonstrated its hypocrisy in claiming to support democratic transformation. 25 American policy since the Algerian coup has evinced a near allergy to official contacts with Islamist movement leaders. This skittishness resulted in part from the harsh experience of the Iranian Revolution, in part from the record of violence among Islamists in Egypt, Lebanon, Algeria, and Gaza in the 1990s, and in part from reasonable suspicions regarding the sincerity of Islamists’ professed commitment to democracy and understandable American preferences for liberal and secular parties.

Qxd 2/12/08 7:41 PM Page 30 chapter three The Vanishing Status Quo I n a 2005 interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of the New Yorker, former national security advisor Brent Scowcroft argued that protecting the political status quo in the Arab world had been and remained the correct policy for the United States. ”1 Residents of the Middle East might quarrel with that characterization, for the years after 1948 witnessed five Arab-Israeli wars, wars or major civil conflicts in Yemen, Algeria, Jordan, and Lebanon, and a war between Iraq and its Persian neighbor, Iran.

Between 1991 and 2001 the world of political Islam diversified significantly, so that today the term Islamist can be applied to such a diverse set of groups as to be almost meaningless as a descriptor, encompassing terrorists who flew planes into the World Trade Center along with legislators who voted on behalf of women’s suffrage in Kuwait. S. policy to deal with them is obvious. Ambivalence over how the United States should orient itself toward Islamist movements is one of the key obstacles to developing a credible, effective, and sustainable policy of democracy promotion in the Arab world.

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