Democracy in the Middle East: A Goal or an Impossibility?
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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Since September 11, democracy has come to dominate the discourse as authoritarian Middle East regimes, even if they are friendly to Western interests, are perceived to be at the root of the existing international state of insecurity. This monograph examines whether democracy is feasible in the Middle East and explores possible recommendations in terms of support to the democratization process in the region. Considering that the limited development of democracy in the Middle East can compare with other developing countries, such as in Africa, and that some Muslim countries in Asia have achieved democracy, one has to look at a variety of factors that have hindered the development of democracy in the region. Factors such as the influence of Islam, modernization, rentier state status, stagnant economies, colonization, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and Cold War rivalries constitute internal and external factors affecting successful democratic processes. The interconnections between these factors inhibit the establishment and maintenance of democracy in the Middle East as both sets of variables feed off each other. Based on the evidence presented, seven guiding principles to support democratization in the Middle East are set forth 1 manage the expectations and adapt the intervention, 2 rebalance the U.S. foreign policy towards Israel, 3 focus on economic reforms, 4 engage in a dialogue with the Islamic parties, 5 expect a long-term commitment, 6 use the position of strength cautiously, and 7 design a complementary U.S.-European approach. The idea that democracy could sweep through the Middle East quickly, or that the Middle East is ill-suited for democracy are not supported by this analysis. Outside actors can make positive contributions only if they come up with measures adapted to the realities of the problems and challenges of particular countries rather than imposing a template approach to all.
- Government and Political Science