Democracy in The Middle East a Reflection on Lisa Anderson’s Article

Since the September 11th attacks carried out by Middle Eastern extremists the region has received a great deal of interest investigating the overwhelming lack of democracy to these states. It has since been the U.S policy to extend democracy throughout the world. Looking to Condoleezza Rice, then Secretary of State, she claims “[democracy is the] ideal path for every nation.” (191). This is based in the theory that democracies do not fight. Therefore ending hostilities in the Middle East. What has been especially troubling about this is the simple fact that almost no Middle Eastern nations are democratic.

One of the major issues was the time at which the United States became involved in the Middle East. Following World War II the United States left as the last remaining western power was thrown into the region with the intention of stopping the spread of communism. To do this often, the United States would be forced to back autocratic rulers and accept that it would be too much trouble to stage a democratic revolution. This issue persisted throughout the Cold War and left no reason for the Middle Eastern nations to undergo democratization at similar times viewed throughout the rest of the world.

The 1990’s rolled around and it appeared as if democracy would take hold in the region just as it had around the globe. This however, was not the case as became very apparent. Instead of actually implementing democracy regimes used the notion of democracy as a way to shore up power and gain support only to limit the power of the people and institute authoritarian regimes just as before.

The main flaw with the way scholars have been studying the Middle East comes about through the comparison to the democratization of Latin America in the 70’s and 80’s. These are very different events, occurring under very different circumstances and simply cannot be compared. Further, comes the notion of an incompatibility with Islam. The clash of civilizations theory would lead you to believe this as the reason democracy has failed to take root in the region. The true reason, I believe democracy has failed in the Middle East is due mainly in part to the view of Democracy as a “western” ideal especially after decades of western oppression and exploitation.

The Arab spring uprisings of 2010 marked an interesting movement in the Middle East previously unseen. Addressing one of Anderson’s complaints that scholars find it difficult to find the views of the people, the Arab Spring movement made those views much more clear than ever before. This was done through the growing technological improvements which enable the people’s voice to be heard. While there is controversy as to the extent that the Arab Spring was a social media movement there is no question that it enabled common folks to be heard like never before.

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