Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 2, 2005
By: Dan Drezner

HI, MY NAME IS DAN....and I'll be defending the Bush administration's grand strategy on democracy promotion here this week.

Before I really dive into the buffet of articles that the Washington Monthly has produced on the question of democracy in the Middle East, let's dispense with some shameless self-promotion preliminaries:

1) If you're curious for my extended take on this question, I wrote on this topic a fair amount in my monthly essays for The New Republic Online in 2003 and 2004. On the big grand strategy questions, click here for my pre-war argument about why Iraq could be turned into a democracy and here for my post-war argument for staying the course. As for the Bush administration's less-than-perfect implementation of its big idea, click here and here. And, on the question of whether the negative effects of having democratic but anti-American Arab states outweigh the positive effects of democratization, click here on whether anti-Americanism can last and here on why democratization is still worth pursuing in pivotal states like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

2) If the current political moment is one where liberals try to point out all the complexities in the world and conservatives try to point out the big recurring constants, I'll play my part and try to boil down the seven idiosyncratic contributions into a few common themes that I'll touch on in later posts:

a) The causes of change in the Middle East include a lot of factors e.g., Arafat's death that had nothing to do with Iraq, and everyone should recognize this fact.

b) Any strategy of democracy promotion that ignores support for NGOs, civil society, free media, etc., will burst into flame and fail miserably;

c) The fact that the Bush administration's second-term foreign policy team has retreated from the neoconservative zeal of Bush's first term is proof in and of itself of the shortcomings of the strategy of coercive democratization;

d) Oh, and by the way, even if the democratization thing succeeds in the Middle East, it will produce Arab regimes that will be unremittingly hostile to the United States and is this really something we want to encourage?

I have every confidence that Kevin's commenters will assist in pointing out any problems or omissions from this list.

3) Finally, a very big thank you to Kevin Drum and Paul Glastris for the opportunity to use a larger megaphone to bloviate articulate my views.... to an admittedly more skeptical audience.

Dan Drezner 12:46 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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