The United States: From Reluctant Democracy Support in the Middle East to Authoritarian Enabler
Online, via Zoom: REGISTER
Democracy promotion has been a longstanding goal of US foreign policy in the Middle East and elsewhere. President George W. Bush championed democracy promotion as a way to counter the ideology and extremism that led to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks against the United States. After Bush’s attempts ended in abject failure, President Barack Obama sought to repair relations with the Muslim world but also withdraw the US footprint in the Middle East. But Obama was forced to take a far more hands-on approach with the outbreak of the 2010-2011 uprisings known as the Arab Spring. President Donald Trump, who has displayed an almost allergic aversion to Obama’s policies, has openly embraced the region’s autocrats with little regard for their abuse of human rights or absence of attention to political or economic freedom. How the United States approaches the region matters – both for aspiring democrats and for those who wish to silence them. Despite the rise of Russia and China, the United States remains the sole superpower, with the loudest voice on the world stage. Thus, the shift from democracy promoter – albeit reluctantly at times – to authoritarian enabler has made the task of democratic political reform far more challenging for people across the Middle East. This discussion will examine the recent democracy promotion efforts of the United States, with a focus on the Obama and Trump years.