Resolving America's Islamist Dilema: Lessons from South and Southeast Asia

U.S. efforts to promote democracy in the Middle East have long been paralyzed by the "Islamist dilemma"-a fear that Islamist parties will be the prime beneficiaries of any democratic opening, and prove both hostile to American foreign policy goals internationally and to democratic liberties domestically. This fear is much exaggerated, argues Shadi Hamid of the Project on Middle East Democracy, and the U.S. can establish an acceptable modus vivendi with Islamist democratic movements without compromising either its vital security interests or its commitment to democracy.