The Hoover Institution hosted "Realism and Democracy: American Foreign Policy after the Arab Spring" on Monday, November 6, 2017 from 5:00pm - 7:00pm EST.
A powerful tool in the fight against Communism, democracy promotion in Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia contributed to liberating tens of millions of people from oppression unleashing what the late Samuel Huntington called the Third Wave of Democracy. Following the 9/11 attacks, as the Bush administration searched for a policy tool kit to address the challenges of tyranny and terrorism emerging from the broader Middle East, democracy promotion emerged as a possible remedy to the crisis of the Middle East.
A decade later, the self-immolation of a Tunisian street vendor, unleashed a wave of uprisings in the Arabic speaking Middle East. As dictators fell across the region, hopes were raised of the Middle East finally breaking from its Faustian choice between authoritarian regimes and totalitarian Islamist movements.
Six years after the Arab Spring, with the exception of Tunisia, the picture is bleak. A civil war in Syria, chaos in Libya, an Islamist victory in Egypt followed by a military coup, civil war and foreign intervention in Yemen, and the rise of the Islamic State have all contributed to disillusionment with democracy promotion. Frustrated by these failures, a new American administration is turning away from democracy promotion. Instead, it believes, America should deal with the Middle East as it is and not as it should be.
In his new book, Elliott Abrams marshals four decades of experience as an American official and leading Middle East expert showing that deals with tyrants will not work, making the case that Islamism is an idea that can only be defeated by a better idea: democracy.
The Hoover Institution's Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Middle Eastern Studies Samuel Tadros discussed the book with the author.