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Uncharted Journey

Uncharted Journey: Promoting Democracy in the Middle East

Thomas Carothers
Marina Ottaway
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 302
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wpjng
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  • Book Info
    Uncharted Journey
    Book Description:

    The United States faces no greater challenge today than successfully fulfilling its new ambition of helping bring about a democratic transformation of the Middle East. Uncharted Journey contributes a wealth of concise, illuminating insights on this subject, drawing on the contributors' deep knowledge of Arab politics and their substantial experience with democracy-building in other parts of the world. The essays in part one vividly dissect the state of Arab politics today, including an up-to-date examination of the political shock wave in the region produced by the invasion of Iraq. Part two and three set out a provocative exploration of the possible elements of a democracy promotion strategy for the region. The contributors identify potential false steps as well as a productive way forward, avoiding the twin shoals of either reflexive pessimism in the face of the daunting obstacles to Arab democratization or an unrealistic optimism that fails to take into account the region's political complexities. Contributors include Eva Bellin (Hunter College), Daniel Brumberg (Carnegie Endowment), Thomas Carothers (Carnegie Endowment), Michele Dunne (Georgetown University), Graham Fuller, Amy Hawthorne (Carnegie Endowment), Marina Ottaway (Carnegie Endowment), and Richard Youngs (Foreign Policy Centre).

    eISBN: 978-0-87003-286-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Jessica T. Mathews

    One of america’s great strengths is its willingness to take on great challenges, often with boldness and daring. Tugging at the coattails of this strength, however, is a recurrent weakness—as America steps forward into vast new undertakings it sometimes does so without adequate preparation, assuming that its strength and vigor will allow it to find, or even to improvise, the needed answers along the way. Of all the tectonic shifts in U.S. foreign policy emerging from the aftermath of 9/11, none is more potentially transformative than the widespread conviction in the U.S. policy community that America must reverse its...

  4. Introduction

    • 1 The New Democracy Imperative
      (pp. 3-12)
      Thomas Carothers and Marina Ottaway

      The issue of democracy in the Middle East has erupted in Western policy circles. U.S. officials, policy experts, and pundits, very few of whom gave the subject more than a passing thought in decades past, now heatedly and ceaselessly debate how democratic political change might occur in the region and whether the United States can help bring about such change. Similarly, in many European capitals the Middle East’s potential democratic evolution is the subject of a rapidly growing number of meetings, conferences, and discussions in both governmental and nongovernmental circles.

      This new Western preoccupation with democracy in the Middle East...

  5. Part One: Regional Realities

    • 2 Liberalization versus Democracy
      (pp. 15-36)
      Daniel Brumberg

      No u.s. president has talked more about democracy in the Middle East than George W. Bush in the years 2002–2004. The president and his advisers spoke optimistically, at least for a time, about a post-Saddam democracy in Iraq—one that might eventually become a veritable light to other Arab nations. Their grand vision assumes that sooner or later, advocates of democracy throughout the Middle East will demand the same freedoms and rights that Iraqis are now claiming. Yet, however inspiring this vision appears, the actual reform plan that the administration put into place in 2003-2004 is unlikely to produce...

    • 3 Islamists and Democracy
      (pp. 37-56)
      Graham Fuller

      Are islam and democracy compatible? And are Islamists willing to accept a democratic order and work within it? Debate has swirled around these two grand questions for decades and has produced a broad variety of responses, often quite polarized. Whatever we may think about Islamists, the topic matters vitally because in the Middle East today they have few serious ideological rivals in leading opposition movements against a failing status quo. These Islamist movements are characterized by rapid growth, evolution, change, and diversification. In the Arab world the only ideological competition comes from Arab nationalism, the left, and liberal democracy, in...

    • 4 The New Reform Ferment
      (pp. 57-78)
      Amy Hawthorne

      In the three years since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the question of Arab reform not only has become closely linked in the minds of Western policy makers to the fight against Al Qaeda, but also a dominant theme of discussion in the region itself. Arab satellite television stations broadcast talk shows featuring vigorous discussions about the persistence of authoritarian rule in Arab countries and the incompetence of incumbent regimes. The opinion pages of Arab newspapers are replete with articles championing democratic reform as the only way to strengthen the region against Western control, or, conversely, to connect...

  6. Part Two: No Easy Answers

    • 5 Is Civil Society the Answer?
      (pp. 81-114)
      Amy Hawthorne

      In parallel with its prosecution of the war in Iraq, the Bush administration formulated a second, longer-term democracy-promotion track for the other countries of the region. On November 6, 2003, President George W. Bush delivered a major speech announcing this track. He declared that because “sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe,” the United States had adopted a “new policy, a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East”—to be pursued in countries including those with governments friendly to the United States.¹

      Bush’s speech...

    • 6 The Limits of Womenʹs Rights
      (pp. 115-130)
      Marina Ottaway

      The u.s. government has made the promotion of women’s rights and the empowerment of women a central element of its new campaign to modernize and democratize the Arab world. The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), the major aid program through which the United States seeks to facilitate the transformation of the Arab world, makes women’s rights one of its priorities. No official U.S. speech about reform in the Middle East fails to mention the cause of women’s rights. And the issue of women is sure to be raised at meetings where Middle East affairs are discussed, regardless of the main...

    • 7 The Political-Economic Conundrum
      (pp. 131-150)
      Eva Bellin

      For nearly two decades the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has languished in economic stagnation and lassitude. At a time when the logic of market-driven reform and export-oriented growth has become nearly canonical worldwide, the MENA region has proven steadfastly unenthusiastic about reform, shutting itself out of the benefits of economic globalization and falling behind most other regions in economic development. At the same time, the region has distinguished itself by spurning another worldwide trend: democratization. As democracy has spread in Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East has remained largely authoritarian, experiencing...

    • 8 The Missing Constituency for Democratic Reform
      (pp. 151-170)
      Marina Ottaway

      The central dilemma of democratic reform in Arab countries can be summed up simply. Presidents and kings remain too powerful, untrammeled by the limits imposed by effective parliaments and independent judiciaries. Countervailing institutions remain weak, if they exist at all, not only because constitutions and laws deliberately keep them that way, but also because they are not backed by organized citizens demanding political rights, participation, and government accountability. This does not mean that there is no desire for democracy on the part of Arab publics. Recent opinion surveys suggest that in the abstract there is strong support for more open...

  7. Part Three: Policy Choices

    • 9 The Problem of Credibility
      (pp. 173-192)
      Marina Ottaway

      Beginning in early 2002, the George W. Bush administration started paying unaccustomed attention to the issue of democracy in the Middle East. This was a result of the conclusion reached by many U.S. officials in the wake of September 11, 2001, that the authoritarianism of most Arab regimes was breeding frustration in their countries, and this frustration encouraged the growth of terrorist organizations. The new wave of U.S. discussions about the need for democracy in the Middle East triggered a strong negative reaction by Arab commentators and journalists. Initially, very little of their writing dealt with the problem of democracy...

    • 10 Choosing a Strategy
      (pp. 193-208)
      Thomas Carothers

      The september 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States led George W. Bush’s administration to reassess America’s traditional acceptance of Arab autocracies as useful security partners and to engage more seriously than any previous administration with the issue of whether and how the United States can promote democracy in the Middle East. The administration’s declarations and actions on democracy in the region during the 2002–2004 period followed two distinct lines, one hard and one soft. The hard line aimed at regime change in countries with governments hostile to the United States. The ouster of Saddam Hussein was primarily...

    • 11 Integrating Democracy into the U.S. Policy Agenda
      (pp. 209-228)
      Michele Dunne

      Between 2002 and 2004, the United States accorded new prominence to political and economic reform and democratization as policy goals in the Middle East. Continuing that trend and translating rhetoric into effective strategies both depend on whether reform and democratization become fully integrated into the U.S. policy agenda in the region. Can the United States promote change at the risk of instability in the region while it remains dependent on petroleum from Arab countries? Can it pursue Arab–Israeli peace and democratization at the same time? Can the United States still secure needed military and counterterrorism cooperation if it antagonizes...

    • 12 Europeʹs Uncertain Pursuit of Middle East Reform
      (pp. 229-248)
      Richard Youngs

      Deliberation of democracy promotion in the Middle East intensified after the attacks of September 11, 2001, and has been further energized by the transatlantic debates that were progeny of the Iraqi conflict. More intense debate over support for political change in the Middle East has forced the United States and Europe into a closer exploration of each other’s actual and intended approaches to democracy promotion in the region. The United States’ proposed—and ultimately ill-fated—Greater Middle East Initiative was viewed skeptically by European governments; in part at the latter’s behest the Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative that...

  8. Conclusion

    • 13 Getting to the Core
      (pp. 251-268)
      Marina Ottaway and Thomas Carothers

      The journey toward democracy in the Middle East crosses territory that remains largely uncharted. As the chapters in this volume make clear, there are no simple answers to the problem of political transformation in the region. The experience of countries elsewhere in the world that have undergone or attempted democratic transitions in recent years offers valuable lessons but nevertheless only limited indications of what can be expected. The political history and circumstances of the Middle East are distinctive, and the evolution of Arab political systems will inevitably follow its own path.

      To have a chance of success, democracy-promotion efforts in...

  9. Bibliography Democracy and Democracy Promotion in the Middle East
    (pp. 269-282)
  10. Index
    (pp. 283-300)
  11. Contributors
    (pp. 301-302)
  12. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
    (pp. 303-303)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 304-304)