Facing an urgent need to defuse crises in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine, the United States is now focusing primarily on Arab states' foreign policy behavior and relegating democracy promotion to the background. But despite the risks of encouraging political change in an already chaotic region, abandoning Middle East democracy as a strategic goal would be a tragic and unnecessary mistake.
The failure of U.S. policy in Iraq has provided autocratic regimes in the Middle East a reprieve from the pressure to democratize, as long as they position themselves clearly on the side of Washington in its looming confrontation with Iran, Syria, and Shiite Islamists.
There are not necessarily preconditions that must be in place before a country attempts democratization, argues Thomas Carothers. Francis Fukuyama and Jack Snyder joined Carothers to debate the sequencing fallacy.
This event featured presentations by Turkmenistan's two major opposition leaders living abroad, Nurmuhammed Khanamov and Khudayberdy Orazov, speaking and participating in a discussion via live video-conference from Berlin. Carnegie Endowment Senior Associate Martha Brill Olcott moderated the event.