Egypt’s military coup meshed with the geopolitical interests of Saudi Arabia and Israel, but the toppling of the country’s first democratically elected government was driven by other factors, including the history of a politically powerful military, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar notes.
A key justification for three recent U.S. military actions – in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya – was to oust brutal dictators and pave the way for a more democratic future. But these violent strategies have fallen short on the pro-democracy front, writes the Independent Institute’s Ivan Eland.
More and more, the Republican Party is becoming a Christian fundamentalist movement with attacks on “secularism” and demands for school-run prayers for students, but many of these same politicos express shock when people in the Middle East turn to Islamic-oriented parties, Lawrence Davidson notes.
The West has long played a double game regarding democracy in the Middle East, replacing popular leaders who nationalized oil or caused “trouble” with autocrats – and then condemning Muslims as politically backward. Now that democracy is returning, the West again is uneasy, writes Adil E. Shamoo.
President Barack Obama’s speech on a “new chapter” in U.S. policy toward the Middle East was filled with platitudes befitting a New Year’s resolution, but there is little expectation that he will follow through, especially on the hardest issues like the Israeli-Palestinian impasse, says Lawrence Davidson.