Hegemony & Leadership Toolbox



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--Democracy assistance to MENA is critical to US leadership and preventing transnational dangers such as terrorism

Guardiano, ’11 writer and analyst who focuses on political, military, and public-policy issues. He resides in Arlington, Virginia

[John R. “A Failure to Promote Democracy is Not a Failure of Democracy Promotion”, 2-2, http://spectator.org/blog/2011/02/02/a-failure-to-promote-democracy#, CMR]


James Antle laments that our "recent track record for democracy promotion in the [Middle East and North Africa] is frankly not very good." He points to the "numerous false starts -- the Iraqi elections, the Cedar Revolution​, the Green Revolution -- that validate the case for caution and skepticism." I'm not sure what Antle means when he says that the Iraqi elections have been a "false start." I think, to the contrary, the elections in Iraq have been quite promising. But his larger-scale point is well taken: Democratization in the Middle East and North Africa is difficult and challenging. But what Antle doesn't seem to appreciate is that this is precisely why it is incumbent upon the United States to exercise a leadership role internationally (and, especially right now, in Egypt): to help foster liberty and to tilt the scales in favor of democracy and self-rule. The point is not to "micromanage" the democratization process, but rather to facilitate it. And, as the undisputed leader of the free world, that is, indeed, something the United States must do. "What's happening in Egypt right now," Antle writes, "doesn't seem likely to result in either an Islamic revolution or a liberal democracy. But we don't really know, no matter how many confident predictions you read in newspaper op-eds or blog posts." That's exactly right: We don't know for sure how Egypt will turn out. Which is why the Obama administration and Congress had better act with dispatch to try and shape a positive outcome there. Yet Antle would have us throw up our hands. ‘Why even bother?' he effectively asks. Democratization is not something we do well. I think Antle's judgment here is premature. The United States hasn't been promoting democracy for very long, after all -- and we certainly haven't done so with much vim and vigor. The Obama administration, for instance, shamefully abandoned the Iranian protesters and simply watched with apparent indifference as that country's "Green Revolution" was crushed. And regrettably, as Eli Lake​ has observed, even the Bush administration, despite its commitment to the "Freedom Agenda," nonetheless coddled and accommodated Mubarak's dictatorial suppression of green, democratic offshoots in Egypt. The United States has been similarly disengaged from Lebanon, and at precisely the time when American leadership there is most urgently needed and required. So the failure is bipartisan. But it is a failure to promote democracy and not a failure of democracy promotion. Antle correctly notes that democracy in Egypt and the Middle East may result in the election of illiberal figures who are hostile to America and Israel. This is true -- and it underscores the need to develop a civic infrastructure of institutions, customs, laws and societal arrangements that will sustain democracy over the long haul. But again, the United States should not simply wish for the development of this civic infrastructure; we should actively facilitate its construction. So I am not naïve about what democracy might mean in Egypt and the Middle East: it certainly will complicate U.S. foreign policy and challenge policymakers in new and potentially dangerous ways. But what is the alternative? To continue supporting autocrats whose repression is itself a stimulus to Arab radicalism? I am, I believe, more sanguine than Antle about the prospects for Egyptian and Middle Eastern democracy because I recognize that in a world of instantaneous communication and international travel, the universal aspiration for freedom cannot long be denied. Of course, we shouldn't overestimate America's ability to shape and influence events overseas; but neither should we underestimate the extent to which we can effect much-needed change. Finally, Antle doesn't like the way I have framed the issue, in "sweeping ideological terms," involving liberty versus tyranny. This "just isn't helpful," he says. But why isn't it helpful? Antle doesn't say. I think it's an accurate depiction of what's at stake in Egypt and the Middle East. Granted, tyranny in Egypt, a poor and underdeveloped country, is a lot less significant than tyranny in, say, Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany or even modern-day, Mullah-run Iran. For a variety of reasons -- political, strategic, military, economic and demographic reasons -- these latter countries posed, and pose, a far greater threat to American liberty. But what Antle fails to appreciate, I think, is that in our increasingly close-knit and interdependent world, a world of international travel and instantaneous communication, culturally and geographically distant threats are a lot more dangerous and worrisome than we may realize. The safe distance that we perceive, in fact, may be a mirage -- as we learned on September 11, 2001​. And so, it is incumbent upon the United States to act preemptively in order to keep threats from ever materializing. Seizing this newfound opportunity to facilitate democratization in Egypt is an important and integral part of our preemption efforts.

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--US support for democracy in the Middle East is key to recover global hegemony – revitalizes the economy and leads to global peace

Byron, ’11, foreign policy blogger

[“Soft Power in the Middle East: Reforming American Foreign Policy”, March 11, http://www. presstorm.com/2011/03/soft-power-in-the-middle-east-reforming-american-foreign-policy CMR]



“The soft power of a country rests primarily on three resources: its culture (in places where it is attractive to others), its political values (when it lives up to them at home and abroad), and its foreign policy (when they are seen as legitimate and having moral authority).”1 It’s easy to read the revolutions across the Middle East now as a vindication of Joseph Nye Jr.’s philosophy of foreign policy. American soft power has triumphed in the Arabs’ and Iranians’ demands for democracy, human rights, and socioeconomic justice. Yet simultaneously, American hard power has been shaken by the Middle Eastern people’s absolute rejection of Western-supported authoritarianism. But what kind of changes will American foreign policy require to genuinely respond to the transformations taking place in the Middle East? The solution seems, in Nye’s terms, for the U.S. to apply smart power, using it’s military and economic strength to stabilize the new democracies, while simultaneously forming alliances based on a common set of democratic values. President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton have had a tough time navigating the uncharted waters of the Arab revolutions and the Iranian’s people’s struggle against the IRI. With the sudden collapse of realpolitik, foreign policy has suddenly undergone a paradigm shift, and it’s clear that the executive branch is scrambling to keep up. Obama’s initial pronouncements that Muburak’s regime should abide the will of the Egyptian people were responsible enough statements, but he did not at the time grasp the extent of the people’s demands. They insisted not on reform, and not just on the ouster of the authoritarian Muburak or even his whole cabinet, but on complete regime change and constitutional reform. The President was poorly served by the old false dilemma between U.S. interest in supporting a stable authoritarian regime and American ideology in supporting the revolutionaries. With the escalation of state-sponsored violence against the protesters, the usual condemnations of violence were accompanied by the awkward knowledge that Muburak’s thugs were using American-made tear gas against the peaceful protesters. Finally, in a January 30th interview, Hillary Clinton strongly reiterated support for the Egyptian people’s democratic aspirations, but denied any consideration of cutting off military aid. And she gave no indication that Muburak has been urged to step down, even after his thugs had attacked and killed some of the protesters. In a February 14th interview with Aljazeera, Clinton was lukewarm about the danger of Egypt reverting to military rule, her answer lacking a strong call to the army to maintain the direction of the Egyptian revolution. The lack of a consistently supportive stance on democratic revolution in the Middle East threatens to undermine president’s aim of recovering U.S. legitimacy there.While Obama may have partly succeeded in changing the image of the United States worldwide, how far is he willing to go to ensure that this change is permanent and not temporary? True, he has endeavored to reach out and has made many promises. Yet, will his good intentions help reverse what his administration inherited from the previous administration?”2 In Egypt, the U.S. had to balance support for democracy with gratitude to the Egyptian government. In Syria, much less could be done by diplomatic means, although faster action on sanctions and freezing Quadaffi’s assets are very desirable and entirely legitimate. But if there is an uprising in Iraq, with U.S. security forces still present, Obama and Clinton will face the toughest foreign policy puzzle of their term, because involvement in Iraq is inevitable. In each case, there are opportunities for the executive to influence the course of events in a way favorable to the emerging democracies. But not by means of military intervention. It is now clear that the demand for freedom in the Middle East represents a turning point for U.S. Middle East policy, but of exactly what character? In the wider historical perspective, the Arab uprisings all have looming in the background America’s long-standing policy of supporting autocrats for the sake of maintaining “stability.” That policy is backfiring for a number of reasons. But one of its principle features is that the Arab and Iranian people are demanding freedoms and rights associated with the Liberal democracies of the West, even though they don’t necessarily trust the West to act consistently with it’s own philosophy. On that reading, the future of American policy lies in shrugging off the benighted realism that has plagued international relations for so long in favor of Nye’s smart power model. Instead of carefully distinguishing between American ideals and U.S. interests abroad, we must realize that our interests overseas lie in identifying our national interests with our ideals. America can only win in the Middle East by genuinely embracing democracy. What the executive and the State Department must realize that it’s in America’s best long-term interests to see all of the Middle Eastern revolutions succeed. We will have allies, peace, trade, and a massive fiscal surplus. Democracies are generally very friendly to each other. If the Arabs and Persians were as friendly to the United States as Turkey and Israel, the America would be able to drastically cut it’s military spending. The “peace dividend” would be massive, enough to revitalize the American economy. Since a robust middle class is an indispensable element in democratic society, American foreign policy should turn from war to development in order to promote stable and enduring democracies. As Clinton points out, discussing her plans for implementing Nye’s smart power concept, “development, when done effectively, is one of the best tools to enhance the United States’ stability and prosperity. It can strengthen fragile or failing states, support the rise of capable partners that can help solve regional and global problems, and advance democracy and human rights.” On the other hand, “countries that are impoverished, corrupt, lawless, or mired in recurring cycles of conflict are more prone to becoming havens for terrorists and other criminals.”3
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