America’s foreign policy has for a long time entailed a powerful idealist element and has therefore aimed at promoting democracy abroad. As a matter of fact, USA has been in a constant endeavor to promote democracy in the Middle East even though it has involved a lot of unprecedented forcefulness. The two main reasons for this are; democracy has been a key principle in the neo-conservative world view and to contribute to the peaceful resolution of the conflict in the region (Terry, 2008).
The emergence of these democracy promotion misconceptions in the Middle East by US can be dated back to 2001. The promotion of democracy was done in various levels. The first level entailed policy initiatives that consisted of a cluster of projects to support civil society organizations and reform state institutions with an aim of encouraging democratic change.
Democracy promotion has since been emphasized by USAID with an aim of alleviating poverty and boosting the Security of America. This notwithstanding, US directed most of its efforts towards the Middle East that necessitated the initiation of Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) in 2002. This initiative mainly focused its attention on political, economic, women rights as well as educational issues (Dunne & Mulaj, 2010).
The second phase of US democracy promotion in the Middle East has entailed public as well as traditional diplomacy. Since 2001, state officials have often emphasized that democratic reforms in the Middle East are the main goals of the US policy.
As a matter of fact, during his speech at the National Endowment of Democracy in 2003, the former US president Bush laid a lot of emphasis on democratic change in the Middle East. In addition, the launching of Radio Sawa as well as Al Hurrah television station whose main target was the young generation in Arab was mainly aimed at promoting reforms.
In the final phase, the endorsement of democracy has indeed become a central part of a domineering US policy in the Middle East, as evident in the occupation and invasion of Iraq. For instance, in the case of Afghanistan, the Iraq combat in 2003 was justified on the grounds of self-defense against terrorism and the manufacturing of alleged armaments of mass destruction. This was despite the fact that democratization was an integral part of the underlying principle of military action (Sirrriyeh, 2007).
The American administration maintained that after becoming democratic, Iraq would naturally become America’s friend, and that the occurrence would promote reforms in other Arab nations. Political change in the Middle East could be just a mere illusion. This is because the US government handles the democracy issue with its Arab friends quite differently from its Arab enemies.
This creates some inconsistency as it appears that the US government does not press friendly regimes as hard in order to shelter them from the damage attributed from democratic reforms. More often than not it appears that the US commits money and troops to support democracy only when its vital interests are affected.
The book “Myths, Illusions & Peace: Finding a New Direction for American in the Middle East” was written by David Makovsky in collaboration with Dennis Ross. Ross, who wrote the book before assuming his position, is currently serving in the Obama administration while Makovsky is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
The book has been extensively commended and well received by several people who come across it and especially by those in the Middle East. It attempts to discredit the delusions of both the realists and the neo-conservatives. It talks about three myths and a tripartite means of transcending them.
In the mythologies, the two authors try to unravel the fallacy that the US has on the Middle East, which according to them are then main reasons why the US has failed to attain its objectives in the Middle East.
They have also outlined clear policies that should be adapted by America in future. In this book the authors outline the false assumptions/myths about the nature and the inspiration of Middle East nations together with their leaders.
As a matter of fact, the book cautiously offers a historical analysis of this region and builds on the remnants of the destructive fallacies to outline clear-cut and extensive principles that will help America set an effective course of action in the region. Since Iran, the Arab-Israeli conflict and Islamic extremists has been America’s most vexing foreign policy challenges, Ross and Markovsky (2010) discuss unexploited diplomatic instruments that could be used to solve the conflict in Iran.
In addition, they also come up with means of strengthening the hands of the modest forces within the region, as well as policies to reinforce the civil society among the regions autocratic systems of government while laying appropriate foundation for development and future independence.
The central mythology that the authors portray to be bogus and even dangerous is that all the tribulations in the Middle East are connected to the Israeli-Palestinian clash, while peace can only be attained by solving the Palestinian problem. In this myth, the duo attempts to dissociate the conflict between Israel and Palestine from other problems while emphasizing on the importance of solving this problem amicably.
The second mythology is about wider issues of engagement as opposed to non-engagement and the revolution of the government system and the question on which candidate America should support. Here, the two authors are mainly concerned with Iran and its neighbors; including Israel, Hamas and Hezbollah.
The third mythology is mainly concerned about the issue of the endorsement of democracy and the balance between principles and interests while handling all the regional stakeholders. This myth elaborates the ties between the US and Israeli (Stokes, 2009). The book is of the opinion that America has one main friend in the Middle East, who is Israel; while its foes are numerous including Hamas, al Qaeda, Iran and Hezbollah.
In each of the three myths, Ross and Makovsky provide solutions that are neither from the neoconservative’s approach nor from the realist schools of thought.
The neo-conservatives maintain that bargaining with autocrats is futile and that democracy will blossom in Arab with just a little bit of backup. Here, neo-conservatism joins the liberal objectives of democratization with the realist’s methodology of implementing hard power with the assumption that liberal democracy improves the security of America.
Its policy recommendations represent an assumed parallel between Islam and the communist view point in the cold world war period On the other hand, the realists hold that, ideology and religion are only tools for power politics and that the United States of America’s ‘cogent’ methodology is collective and obvious.
Both of these approaches stick to the erroneous conception that, regardless of the apparent proof to the contrary, the clash between Israel and Palestine is the main cause of misery and conflicts surrounding the Middle East region. This is despite the numerous coups, hostility, mass execution and deprived political and economic growth among the Arab nations which have no link with Israel.
According to some public opinions from some parts of the Arab nations, the alleged concern about democratic reforms by the US government in the Middle East is insincere.
They argue that the US government is not committed to democracy for instrumental purposes but for a hidden agenda such as to broaden America’s supremacy or to facilitate Israel to have power over the Palestinians and thus take over the Iraqi oilfields. However, I do not concur with this description of the position of US. As a matter of fact, America is indeed sober about democracy as an ideal and for the purpose of eradicating terrorism.
However, the main hitch of America’s democracy support policies lies in the way in which the neo-conservatives regard democracy; in that it is the key to ending the conflicts in the Middle East, a speculation that democracy will correct all wrongs. This notwithstanding, the neo-conservatives do not have a clearly outlined the mechanism with which to achieve this (Tessler, 2006).
In order to improve its policies, the US government should decrease the space between democracy endorsement policies assumed towards its allies and those adopted toward its foes. In addition, it should focus on reducing the attention on the question of terrorism and ensure that the war against terrorism does not impede on democratic independence and national liberties (Stansfield, 2010).
Moreover, the government should abstain from making democracy a minor goal after the achievement of its security and economic goals. Moreover, it should employ peaceful Islamist opposition essentials without emerging to support them. Furthermore, it should shift its focus towards achieving an unbiased peace between Israel and Palestine while avoiding stipulations and openly supporting pro-democracy nations (Makovsky & Ross 2010).
The aforementioned theories together with other historic misconceptions have triggered the failure of policies for a long period. Subsequently, it has resulted to the collapsing of America’s aptitude to identify prolific decisions in the Middle East, a country that will play a pivotal role in enhancing the international security in the twenty-first century. Indeed, Ross and Makovsky maintain that these Americans should critically analyze and change their perceptions especially at this time of global economy.
Dunne, K. & Mulaj, K. (2010). America After Iraq. Journal of International Affairs. 86,6, 1287-1298.
Makovsky, D. & Ross, D. (2010). Myths, Illusions, & Peace: Finding a New Direction for American in the Middle East. New York: Penguin Books
Sirrriyeh, H. (2007). Iraq and the Religion Since the War 2003. Journal of Civil Wars. 9, 1,106-125
Stansfield, G. (2010). Reformation of Iraq’s Foreign Relations: New Elites and Enduring Legacies. Journal of International Affairs. 86, 2, 1395-1409.
Stokes, D. (2009). The War Gamble: Understanding US Interests in Iraq. Journal of Globalization. 6, 1, 107-112.
Terry, J. (2008). The United States and Iraq at Cross Purposes: A History Review. International Journal of Cotemporary Iraqi Studies, 2, 3, 333-347.
Tessler, M. (2006). What do Iraqis Want? Journal of Democracy.17, 1, 39,45-46.