"Democracy Deficit" in the Arab Middle East: Easy Money and Authoritarianism
AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLL MAXWELL AFB AL
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It seems to be a commonly held belief by many that Islamic values are incompatible with the ideals of democracy, and that Islams tight grasp on the Arab Middle East is the underpinning of authoritarian rule in the region. However, this paper takes the view that the reasons for a lack of democracy in the region go much deeper and seeks to understand the root issue. Many scholars and experts construe Islam as not only compatible with democracy but also as demanding governance through many of the same ideals. Further, cultural and historical elements build a framework to better understand the context of modern day Arab Middle East, but do not fully explain the democracy deficit in the Arab Middle East. Post-World War II Italy evolved to embrace democracy yet presents very similar patterns to the Arab Middle East in terms of religion, culture, and society. A comparison of material cultural and socioeconomic patterns points towards the contrary economic conditions and policies as the major difference between the two regions, and these economic conditions in the Arab Middle East were premised on their rentier economies. These economic conditions are an integral theme in practically all of the cultural and historical elements defining the modern Arab Middle East as well as the bedrock for the authoritarian regimes power. Conditions created by these rentier economies enable the authoritarian regimes to maintain strict control over their social, economic, and political systems and thus delay the implementation of democratic ideals in the region.
- Government and Political Science
- Humanities and History