Hoover Institution Press Releases Book Highlighting the Future of Democracy in the Middle East The Wave: Man, God, and the Ballot Box in the Middle East By Reuel Marc Gerecht

Monday, June 6, 2011
The Wave: Man, God, and the Ballot Box in the Middle East by Reuel Marc Gerecht

The Hoover Institution Press released The Wave: Man, God, and the Ballot Box in the Middle East by Reuel Marc Gerecht.  In The Wave, Gerecht argues that the Middle East is at the cusp of a momentous “democratic wave” whose movement will become the defining theme of Obama’s presidency.  Gerecht explains that powerful Middle Eastern democratic movements stem from both the secular left and the religious right.  Given these developments, Gerecht asserts that it is time for the West to reassess its beliefs about democracy’s future in the Middle East and to begin envisioning what an Islamic democracy will look like.    

“In this startlingly original book, Reuel Marc Gerecht lays to waste the thesis of an Arab and Muslim exceptionalism to democracy,” said Fouad Ajami, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, chair of the Hoover Institution’s Working Group on Islamism and the International Order, and professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.  “The ‘democratic wave’ that remade Latin America and East Asia was destined to reach Middle Eastern shores,” he observes.  “It will shape the politics of the region, touch secularists and religious movements alike.  Gerecht's thoughts on the Arab Spring have a great immediacy to them. He is an original thinker, and this book is like no other available today.”

In The Wave, Gerecht writes that mainstream Islamist groups see elections, not revolutions, as a means of maintaining Muslim traditions. Despite this embrace of democratic principles, however, Gerecht argues that the challenge democracy faces in the Middle East is in coexisting with Muslim Holy Law, of seeing popular will as an unchallengeable expression of a divine mandate. Speculating on what a Muslim democracy might look like, he points to Egypt, Iran, and Turkey—the first modernizing states in the region—as trailblazers in democracy’s success and failure.  Gerecht believes that Iran—despite the violence that followed the fraudulent elections in June 2009—might still make a democratic transition without another bloodbath.  He concludes by detailing the important role that the United States can play, if it chooses, by engaging in the great ethical and political debates surrounding God, man, and the ballot box in the Middle East.

Reuel Marc Gerecht is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and served as a Middle East specialist in the Clandestine Service at the Central Intelligence Agency.  He is also a former director of the Project for the New American Century's Middle East Initiative and a former resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.  

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