America’s role in establishing democracy in the Middle East

Two recent articles have casted a negative light on the role the Obama administration has played in the fight for democracy in the Middle East. One, written by political scientist Reza Pankhurst in 2011, spoke out against the perceived hypocrisy of the administration in publicly supporting and praising certain Middle Eastern nations despite their complete lack of plural democracy. He specifically uses the example of the United States’ relationship with Qatar and Saudi Arabia, two nations that have incredibly dismal scores on the Democracy Index Report, but who hold a higher level of esteem by the US due to the economic advantages such a friendship could yield.

According to D.C. newspaper The Hill, little has changed about the administration’s stance on Middle Eastern democracy, with Obama espousing support for democratic solutions to the conflict and avowing to “keep the pressure” on authoritarian leaders, while actively doing little to support real change in the region.

But should it really be the role of the United States government to actively manufacture democracy in the region? It could be argued that United States interventionism during the second Gulf War actively hindered the progress of democracy throughout the region, and the argument on whether the Bush Doctrine did aide in the political shift that has enabled these democratic uprisings has raged on, on both sides. Luckily, the belief that true democracy must start with the people, by the people, and not dropped from above by a benevolent savior nation is one that is growing in popularity. In my belief, this is the only path to successful Islamic democracy.

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