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22 Dec 2007 - 21 Aug 2011
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Project on Middle East Democracy
The POMED Wire Archives
Month: June, 2007
2008: McCain Promises Independent Agency for Public Diplomacy
June 29th, 2007 by Matt
In an op-ed published in the Orlando Sentinel on June 28, John McCain said he would create a new, independent agency that would communicate America’s message of freedom to the world. Concerned that America is struggling in the battle of ideas against Islamic extremists, McCain proposes this agency as a method of “exposing the world to the American story of hope, opportunity, charity and liberty.” Daniel Larison at The American Scene questions the philosophy behind McCain’s idea.
Posted in Election 08, US politics | Comment »
Support and Challenges for Democracy
June 29th, 2007 by Shir
On The American Muslim, Parvez Ahmed writes about the public support for and precedents in Islam for democracy in the Middle East. Writing from Doha during its seventh Doha Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade, Ahmed discusses the challenges to Western democracy promotion in the Middle East.
Posted in Democracy Promotion | Comment »
Developments in Pakistani Governance
June 29th, 2007 by Shir
Pakistan’s Daily Times reports that a four-year report of Pakistan’s National Assembly has been launched, and includes information about the Assembly’s legislative activities. In response, National Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain says democracy has been strengthened in the last four years.
Also in the Daily Times this week, Dr. Hasan-Askari Rizvi​analyzes the major players in Pakistan’s democratic movement, and opines that “exclusion of some government adversaries from the electoral process and the manipulation of the elections to the advantage of the ruling party” may lead to Musharraf’s ouster.
Posted in Pakistan | Comment »
On Bush’s Israel/Iraq Analogy
June 29th, 2007 by Shir
After President Bush stated yesterday that Iraq should aspire to Israel’s model of a democracy functioning despite terror attacks, Juan Cole sharply criticizes this analogy on his blog Informed Comment. Saying Israel’s democracy leaves something to be desired, Cole emphasizes the serious strategical error in the comments, likely to only help the U.S.’s enemies in the region.
Posted in Iraq, Israel | Comment »
2008: Reaction to Richardson Speech
June 28th, 2007 by Matt
As promised, some reaction to the Richardson speech on Iran yesterday:
MSNBC’s First Read blog had a quick reaction piece touching on Richardson’s major points. Bob McMahon at CFR commends Richardson for the thoughtfulness and nuance present in the speech. Dana Milbank writes in the Washington Post that Richardson’s speech had all the hallmarks of someone aspiring to the vice presidency. Ed Morrissey at Captain’s Quarters reacts to Milbank’s column. A DailyKos diarist says that so far, Richardson is offering the best foreign policy ideas.
Posted in Election 08, Iran, US media | Comment »
Senate Approves State, Foreign Operations Spending
June 28th, 2007 by Audrey
This afternoon, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 28-1 to approve HR 2764, the State, Foreign Operations funding legislation for fiscal year ‘08. The $34.4 billion bill contains $34.2 billion in discretionary spending.
Posted in Congress, Foreign Aid, US politics | Comment »
Executive Report and Policy Recommendations from POMED and AIDemocracy Conference in Morocco
June 28th, 2007 by Shir
The executive report and policy recommendations from POMED and AIDemocracy​’s “An American-Moroccan Youth Dialogue On Democracy and Security” have been released. The conference was held in Rabat, Morocco, on May 25-26 and joined 25 young Americans with 25 young Moroccans who developed and agreed upon the 20 policy recommendations for the U.S. and Morocco.
See POMED’s past coverage of the conference.
Posted in Morocco, POMED | Comment »
Follow ISG: Engage Iran and Syria
June 28th, 2007 by Shir
On PSA’s blog Across the Aisle,​Jonathan Wallace (a former POMED blogger) urges the Bush Administration to take the advice of the ISG report, particularly as the House voted last week to fund a reconstitution of the Group. Wallace backs the ISG’s recommendation that the U.S. engage Iran and Syria, saying that while some steps have been taken, the Administration “must keep the channels of dialogue open and consistent.”
Posted in Iran, Iraq, Syria | Comment »
U.S. Blind To Democratic Reform in Pakistan
June 28th, 2007 by Shir
[Pakistani President] Musharraf​’s difficulties have caught the Bush administration flat-footed,” says Ali Dayan Hasan in today’s LA Times, who says the U.S. should have, but did not foresee the insistence of democratic reform currently ensuing from many sectors of Pakistani society. “If the Bush administration actually believes its high-minded rhetoric about the spread of democracy,” says Hasan, “there is no better place to start than Pakistan.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Pakistan | Comment »
UN, US Passive on Lebanese Sovereignty and Democracy
June 28th, 2007 by Shir
Defending Lebanon’s right to sovereignty, an editorial in today’s LA Times condemns Western passivity as Syria launches a “campaign to retake Lebanon.” On the heels of a meeting between Secretary Rice and Lebanese PM Fouad Siniora this week, the editorial asks “where is the U.S. or U.N. plan for free Lebanese elections?”
Posted in Lebanon | Comment »
President Bush to Appoint Special Envoy to OIC
June 28th, 2007 by Shir
President Bush spoke yesterday at the annual rededication of the Islamic Center of Washington DC. In his remarks he gave an overview of past and present foreign policy toward Muslim states and rejected notions that the United States is at war with Islam. However the three most salient features of his public address were 1) his announcement to send a special envoy representing the U.S. at the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), 2) issues of religious freedom and democracy in Muslim states, and 3) the argument that extremist organizations like Al-Qaeda pose the biggest threat to Islam itself.
Concerning his appointment to the OIC, it is clear that the newly created envoy position is meant to bolster America’s failing image in Muslim states. However the effectiveness of this new position, whose purpose is to “share American values” is unlikely to have any significant impact on Muslims’ perceptions of the US. Polls like a recent Gallup survey show, Muslims’ anger is not toward American political values, rather, “It’s the Policy Stupid.”
As for features two and three of President Bush’s speech, in my analysis, they are intertwined. Modern Sunni Islam is characterized by a “crisis of authority” that is largely due to Statist interference in Islamic discourse and centers of learning. Modern authoritarian governments co-opting and/or coercing clerics to endorse corrupt state policy rather than Islamic principles of justice and accountability have led people to distrust the traditional religious leadership, creating “a profound vacuum in religious authority.” As a result of these violations of international religious freedom, “this self-appointed vanguard” – as President Bush rightly calls them – of Al-Qaeda et al. has the intellectual space to grow.
It is good to hear the President making these observations, however actions need to follow suit. Robust commitments to long-term democratic reforms that include religious freedom are needed, not special envoys. Violent religious radicalism is not caused by Muslims’ misunderstanding of American values; it is caused by a lack of democratic governance that has lead to a misunderstanding of Islam.
Alejandro J. Beutel is a Program Assistant at the Minaret of Freedom Institute (​www.minaret.org​) and a member of the Project on Middle East Democracy.
Posted in Political Islam | Comment »
Which Arab Regime Most Vulnerable?
June 28th, 2007 by Shir
On his blog Abu Aardvark, Marc Lynch conducts an interesting discussion on which Arab country could be the first to undergo regime change, highlighting pros and cons for each. Lynch doesn’t specifically refer to democratization, but considers domestic public opinion and undemocratic politics in an arguments against the regimes.
Posted in Democracy Promotion | Comment »
2008: Richardson Speaks on Iran
June 27th, 2007 by Matt
Bill Richardson delivered a foreign policy address today at the Center for National Policy, focusing mainly on his ideas for resolving the Iranian nuclear issue. Though he did not address democracy promotion directly, a few statements he made gave a sense of his general feelings about it. In discussing his plan for a “New Realism” in American foreign policy, Richardson explicitly rejected the tactic of pushing for regime change in Iran, arguing that it would only engender more distrust in the Iranian government and more defensive nationalism in the Iranian people. He said that the U.S. should not fund emigre groups who seek to topple the regime, and should squelch any regime change rhetoric. Instead, he advocated for a dialogue with moderate elements within Iran, such as business and civil society leaders.
Richardson was guardedly optimistic about prospects for more democratic reform in Iran, noting that many elements of a modern democracy already exist, including a national conversation about the need for more democratic freedoms. Richardson expressed a desire to strengthen moderates and isolate extremists across the Middle East, and said that Iran was a good place to start, as many moderates are “waiting in the wings” as the hard-line policies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prove mostly unsuccessful.
I’ll be back tomorrow with a post on reaction to the speech, as it will undoubtedly filter in.
Posted in Election 08, Iran, US politics | Comment »
PPI Forum: Should We Fear Middle East Democracy?
June 27th, 2007 by Stephen
This morning, the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) hosted a forum entitled “Should America Fear Middle East Democracy?” The event marked the publication of a new PPI paper by POMED Research Director Shadi Hamid entitled, “Engaging Political Islam to Promote Democracy​.” The paper spurred lively debate between the three panelists, each taking a somewhat different approach.
Shadi Hamid summarized main points of his paper, pointing out the contradiction in the Bush administration’s Middle East policy “wanting democracy and fearing its outcomes,” especially the democratic rise to power of political Islamist organizations. He concluded that to effectively encourage democracy in the region, the United States must distinguish between mainstream and extremist Islamist groups and engage those mainstream groups that renounce violence and publicly commit to the democratic rules of the game.
Rob Satloff, Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, took the opposing view, arguing that in the war for ideas in the Middle East, political Islam is in fact the enemy and the U.S. should ally itself with all of the disparate “anti-Islamist” groups in the region. Satloff disputed the distinction between moderate/mainstream and extremist Islamist groups, instead viewing the distinction as merely between “violent radical extremists and nonviolent radical extremists” pursuing the same ends.
Tamara Cofman Wittes, Research Fellow at the Brookings Institution, agreed that the problem with Islamist groups such as Hamas, Hizbullah, and Shi’a militias in Iraq, is not their Islamism, but their militancy, and particularly their ability to operate militarily in the absence of a strong state. Cofman Wittes attributed the failure of the Bush administration’s push for democracy to the mistake of pushing hardest for democracy in the weakest states of the region, arguing that democracy should instead be pushed where strong state institutions exists.
Posted in POMED, Political Islam | Comment »
New Think Tank Advises on Iraq, Foreign Policy
June 27th, 2007 by Audrey
The Center for a New American Security was formally launched today, releasing reports advising on Iraq as well as the “new course to restore America’s credibility, influence and power in the world.” Earlier this week, the Center for American Progress also released a report advising on the way forward in Iraq.
Check out Steve Clemons’ post on the event - and Steve’s excellent question: What steps can be taken to restore American prestige in the world? - here.
Posted in Iraq, US politics | Comment »
Apologizing for Dictators
June 27th, 2007 by Audrey
In Vanity Fair, Christopher Hitchens invites controversy by suggesting that Tunisia’s dictatorship may not be so bad.
Posted in Tunisia | Comment »
Republican Support for Iraq War
June 27th, 2007 by Audrey
Sen. Richard Lugar’s (R-IN) speech on the Senate floor Monday night has stirred up a great deal of commentary in the blogosphere as analysts dissect the current level of Republican support for President Bush and/or the Iraq War.
Michael Gerson at the Washington Post warns against America’s “natural isolationism​,” while Tony Blankley at the Washington Times offers predictions on Iraq and urges Bush not to blind himself to the “ruthless, practical demands of the moment.”
Andrew Bacevich addresses the U.S.’ moral obligation to Iraqis.
Posted in Iraq, US politics | Comment »
The Bush Administration and Pakistan
June 27th, 2007 by Audrey
Today’s L.A. Times addresses the ongoing judicial crisis in Pakistan, opining that “(i)f the Bush administration actually believes its high-minded rhetoric about the spread of democracy, there is no better place to start than Pakistan.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Pakistan | Comment »
Blair Named Envoy to the Middle East
June 27th, 2007 by Audrey
A trio of op-eds in the Daily Star address the appointment of Tony Blair as special envoy to the Middle East: David Rieff examines Blair’s policy of “liberal interventionism​,” Michael Glackin blames the current Middle East “chaos” on Blair, and Rami Khouri says that neither the Quartet nor Blair have been evenhanded in their treatment of Palestine.
Posted in Palestine | Comment »
Opinions on US Democracy Promotion in Iran
June 26th, 2007 by Shir
This weekend’s New York Times Magazine features a piece by Negar Azimi, who takes a critical look at U.S. democracy funds and advocacy in Iran. Iranians are deeply skeptical of U.S. democracy promotion as code for regime change, Azimi writes, and most Iranian proponents of democracy would rather the U.S. have little to do with their politics. Max Boot​responds critically to Azimi’s piece on Commentary’​s blog Contentions.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Iran | Comment »
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