Public Forum Topic News

Topic: Democracy

*NEW* Read the college debate topic proposal written by Gordon Stables of the University of Southern California entitled “Supporting the Arab Spring: Democracy Assistance in the Middle East and North Africa.” It is a great additional topic primer in addition to our available topic overview!

United States should lead the way to democratic change in Egypt (June 10, The Olympian) America needs a democratic partner in Egypt. Egyptians, for the most part, share our goals and interests. Our common values and beliefs should usher in a new era of mutual cooperation and partnership. So all we have to do is embrace Egypt and lead it to democracy. Then, we can extend our good will to Muslim countries beyond. Should be easy, right? But, are we positioned to do that? Does America have the credibility and influence it needs?

CIA: Gaddafi staying in power could undermine Arab Spring (June 9, Monsters and Critics) CIA Director Leon Panetta, who is slated to become the next US secretary of defence, warned Thursday that if Libya’s Moamer Gaddafi stays in power it could undermine the reformist movements in other Arab countries.

Francis Fukuyama: Democracy still rules. But will US catch up in a changing world? (June 8, Christian Science Monitor) Skafidas (interviewer): Is it feasible to hope that an autocrat can be reversed into a democrat? Fukuyama: That has happened in cases where authoritarian rulers have given up power voluntarily, or they presided over openings that have surprised people. You have South Africa, Turkey, and in the earlier period you have a number of places – Eastern Europe itself and the former Soviet Union – where nobody expected liberalization.

Arab Spring Withering in the Summer Heat (June 8, Chrisella Segers) The Arab Spring seems to be withering with the summer heat, just as the attention from the West has lessened or turned to other interests. If these revolutions are going to result in stable democracies it will be up to the protesters to push for it, against the odds, alone.

Obama Should Insist that President Humala Strengthen Free-Market Democracy (June 7, The Heritage Foundation) Humala’s election is stoking fear that Peru, one of Latin America’s brightest stars, will experience a dangerous slide toward Hugo Chávez’s “socialism of the 21st century,” authoritarianism, and economic nationalism. With U.S. economic and national security interests at stake, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should immediately urge Humala to continue the successful free-market reforms of the past 20 years that have allowed Peru to become one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America.

Obama: Gadhafi Must Step Down Now as ‘Arab Spring’  Resumes (June 7, Department of Defense) The president said he and Merkel agree that “this historic moment [for reform] must not be squandered,” noting that the United States and Germany are the two largest donors of assistance to the Middle East and North Africa.

U.S.-backed program trains young leaders of Arab Spring protests (June 7, Daily Star) Speaking at Monday’s launch at AUB, U.S. Ambassador Maura Connelly said that “America did not put people on the streets of Tunis, Cairo, Tripoli, Sanaa, Manama or Damascus. It was the people themselves who launched these movements and who must determine their outcome.”

Arab spring reaches full bloom (June 7, The Austrailian) THE Arab spring is turning into the Arab summer as Yemen celebrates the departure of Ali Abdullah Saleh for the safety of Saudi Arabia, where the President’s shrapnel wounds and burns will be treated. Saleh says he will return, but Yemenis are in no mood to welcome him back.

Sadly, I’m Still Betting On Qaddafi and Assad In the Middle East (June 6, Fox News) But Obama also blew his chance to support the democratic protests of hundreds of thousands of people in Iran in 2009. Now he’s lost Egypt and he’s blowing his leverage to command or steer events in Libya and Syria as well.

Arab Summer (June 6, New America Foundation) As the Arab Spring soars, limps, sputters, and stalls—some societies inching toward a new civil order, some erupting in chaos, others’ fates still very much up in the air—the only surprise is that anyone should be surprised by what’s happening. Revolutions tend to be messy and protracted, and the political revolutions stirring the Middle East and northern Africa have gone on now for barely four months—an eternity in cable news land but less than a finger snap in the storybook of history. No wonder, then, that the narrative threads are jutting every which way, their courses, much less outcomes, uncertain.

The Arab spring is not blossoming (June 6, Telegraph)  Saudi Arabia, Yemen’s main source of aid, is best placed to find a way out of this chaos. In the eastern Mediterranean, the Turks could likewise play a key role in resolving the impasse in Syria, where Bashar al-Assad’s murderous regime continues to fire on protesters. Through failure to reform, he, too, has become a destabilising factor. In each region, removal of the dictator calls for the diplomatic skills of the dominant power, whether Saudi Arabia or Turkey.

Is the G8 supporting or undermining the Arab spring? (June 3, The Guardian) The G8 countries retain significant leverage on these economies, precisely because they supported the previous regimes for so long. Both Tunisia and Egypt have been left with billions of dollars of debts from the Mubarak and Ben Ali regimes. Yet rather than cancelling this unjust debt, the G8 wants to saddle the two countries with even more. Before elections have been held in either country, their future governments are being tied into heavy debt repayments and the restructuring of their economies.

Guardian Live; Blogging the Uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa (June 3, The Guardian) Unrest continues in Yemen as civil war draws closer, while the fate of the Bahrain grand prix will be decided at a meeting of Formula 1’s governing body. Follow live updates here

Presidential Palace in Yemen is shelled (June 3, New York Times) Heavy fighting in Yemen’s capital reached the doorstep of President Ali Abdullah Saleh for the first time on Friday as explosions from artillery fire shook the presidential palace.

Will Foreign Aid Dollars Help or Hurt Democracy in the Middle East? (June 2, Wedel) The goal of handing out foreign aid to foster “civil society” always sounds noble and well-intentioned. But you’ll forgive someone like me for being skeptical about the results.

2011: An Arab Springtime? (June 2, Monthly Review) The year 2011 began with a series of shattering, wrathful, explosions from the Arab peoples. Is this springtime the inception of a second “awakening of the Arab world?” Or will these revolts bog down and finally prove abortive?

What ‘Arab Spring’? (June 1, Washington Examiner) Upheaval in Yemen and the possibility that al Qaeda might take over, turning that country into a stronger terrorist base than it already is, should give pause to American and European policy in the Arab world.

“Will the Arab Spring Go the Way the West Wants? (June 1, The Nation) In the end the West will have to come to terms with the views and deep-seated mistrust of Islamists towards the West, and ask the question: Are we willing to work with everyone in a new Arab world that may very well have a place for the Islamists?

“China’s Worldview Imperative: Don’t Rock Our Boat” (May 31, Tom Doctoroff) That stability matters above all else becomes clear once one considers reactions to events seemingly unrelated but linked on psycho-emotional levels: the Jasmine revolution; a broad crackdown on human rights activists, artists, bloggers and defense attorneys; the trial of Yao Jiaxin, a moneyed princeling who murdered a pedestrian; and Japan’s concatenation of tragedy (earthquake, tsunami and radiation).

Barack Obama has fumbled the Arab Spring but George W Bush saw it coming (May 31, Telegraph) There has been much chin-stroking punditry over the past few days about the course of the revolution in North Africa and the Middle East as Arab Spring becomes Arab Summer. What I haven’t heard from anyone is an acknowledgement of George W Bush’s prescience on the subject of democracy in the Arab world. The 43rd President set out his thinking in a speech to the World Economic Forum in Sharm el Sheikh exactly three years ago. The essence of his argument was that the West’s airy dismissal of the very notion of democracy in Islam was condescending and wrong:

U.S. Foreign Assistance and the Arab Spring (May 31, 2011, HuffPost World):President Barack Obama’s May 19th speech was an important and long overdue departure from previous U.S. policy towards the Middle East. After months of struggling to keep up with events on the ground, President Obama finally presented some core priorities to help guide the nation’s response to the Arab Spring.

Egypt Opens Rafah Crossing: This Is What Democracy Looks Like (May 30, 2011) Robert Naiman discusses the direction of democracy in Egypt.

G-8 Pledges Aid to Egypt, Tunisia (May 29, 2011, Wall Street Journal): Egypt and Tunisia, which have been at the forefront of this year’s so-called Arab Spring movement, start work after last week’s summit of the Group of Eight leading nations with funds to help rebuild their economies and a clear message: Moves toward democracy and open government will be rewarded with aid.

Obama’s “Arab Spring:” Are Arabs looking for Western Democracy? (May 28, 2011) Last week, Obama’s priorities were obvious: While Americans in Joplin, Missouri were ravaged by implacable tornadoes, he was in the midst of pro-Muslim Western leaders promoting ways to help consolidate what he likes to call the “Arab Spring.” Obama has come to understand that his Muslim friends have been warmly welcomed by Albion, and it is time for him to be more, cordial with them.

Nations Seek to Make Tunisia Model for Democracy in Region (May 27, 2011) Protesters here surprised the world in January with their revolution, sparking the “Arab Spring” movement across the Middle East. Now Tunisians are seeking help from world leaders who hope the country can serve as a model for democratic transitions in the region.

Obama will discuss democracy in Middle East with G8 (May 25, 2011): President Barack Obama said on Wednesday he will discuss with the G8 how to support moves toward democracy in the Middle East.

US aid for protests should foster democracy – not radicalism (May 25, 2011): President Obama’s grand plan to provide U.S. financial aid to emerging democracies in the Middle East, Egypt and Tunisia now, and possibly later a post-Saleh Yemen and post-Assad Syria, may be commendable but could bring catastrophic results.

US push for democracy in Middle East critical, says Boehner (May 24, 2011): Speaking before the powerful pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, House Speaker John Boehner told the 10,000 assembled delegates that it was “delusional” for anyone to think the West could stop a nuclear-armed Iran, whose menace he said casts a shadow over the region.

Letters: US ignores problem in Middle East (May 24, 2011):  “It will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy,” President Barack Obama said to the Middle East on May 19. He said America would now favor “the street vendor in Tunisia more than the raw power of the dictator.” This is little more than opportunistic hogwash. Why has the president reached out to the leaders of the insurgencies? Because he has to.

Arab democracy needs more than markets (May 24, 2011):  The old Russian revolution offers two lessons for the new Arab Spring. First, don’t underestimate the damage natural resources can do. A whole range of scholarship suggests that natural resources tend to impede growth and spur conflicts: Marxists have long warned of the dangers of petro giants, while a newer school of economics, public choice theory, cautions that natural resources encourage rent-seeking at the expense of innovation. Second, democracy and markets aren’t enough to secure a prosperous future. To help the Middle East transition, policymakers inside and outside the region must focus on building institutions — courts and schools — more than anything else.

U.S. influence in Middle East waning (May 17, 2011): An arrest warrant request by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has raised questions of politicization and legal bias of the tribunal and as to why it has not adopted a similar stance against the Yemeni ruler and other US-backed dictators in the Arab world. In an interview with Michael Maloof, former Pentagon officer in Washington, PressTV discussed the issue further more.

Building Democracy, not in name only (May 17, 2011): A human right’s activist questions how successful building democracy is with Bush era tactics.

Pew: U.S. image largely unimproved in Middle East after ‘Arab Spring’ (May 17, 2011): The United States’ image in four Middle Eastern nations and the Palestinian territories largely doesn’t appear to have improved during anti-government uprisings that have shaken regimes in the region, a survey from the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project found.

Yemen on the edge (May 17, 2011): Since Obama came to office in January 2009, U.S. security assistance to the Yemeni regime has gone upfive-fold. Despite such large-scale unconditional support, however, the 32-year reign of autocratic President Ali Abdullah Saleh may finally be coming to an end. Yet the Obama administration has been ambivalent in its support for a democratic transition in this impoverished but strategically important country.

Obama’s strategy in the Middle East and Africa (May 17, 2011): On Thursday, President Obama makes a major address on the uprisings sweeping the Middle East and North Africa and what those events mean for the U.S. His comments will likely be compared to his speech in Cairo in June 2009, where he went to “seek a new beginning” in the region and the Muslim world.

US ‘crucial’ to Mideast outcome: Jordan king (May 16, 2011): King Abdullah II of Jordan, during a visit to Washington, said Monday the United States will play a “crucial” role in shaping the outcome of pro-democracy revolutions in the Middle East.

The Left Should Not Oppose Military Call for Intervention (May 3, 2011): I firmly believe the left and progressive forces have made a serious error in viewing and equating Libya with the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Libya is not the same situation; there has been a popular peoples uprising.

Drones of Disaster (May 1, 2011): Having sent one of it’s most lethal drone weapons to Libya in the person of Senator McCain, the U.S. more firmly established its murderous bias in a civil war it has promoted and possibly helped organize.