Following internal maneuvering and international pressure, Yasser Arafat has agreed to a new government proposed by Prime Minister-designate Mahmud Abbas, paving the way for Washington's ‘road map’ for an independent, democratic Palestinian state. But can Abbas implement reform? How do Palestinians view the issue of reform? And, what is the relationship between reform and Arab-Israeli peace?
Pakistan’s latest experiment in ‘‘controlled democracy’’ is faltering just months after elections and the nomination of a Prime Minister. General Pervez Musharraf does not want parliament to vote on the Legal Framework Order, a decree that he used to amend the country’s constitution. Pakistan’s problem is not the constitution – it is the fact that it is subject to the whims of rulers.
Before the United States can determine whether its gradualist approach to democratic reform in the Middle East is the best remedy, we must first understand how Arab autocracies actually work. In particular, we must understand how the "liberalized autocracies" of the region endure despite frequent prediction of their imminent death.
Discussants discuss the consequences of regime change in Iraq on countries in the Middle East and Central and South Eastern Asia.
The record of past U.S. experience in democratic nation building is daunting. The low rate of success is a sobering reminder that these are among the most difficult foreign policy ventures for the U.S. Unilateral nation building by the U.S. has had an even rougher time-perhaps because unilateralism has led to surrogate regimes and direct U.S. administration during the post-conflict period.
If faced with the choice between a genuinely representative new Iraqi government that shows itself to be resistant to Washington's policy commands and an unrepresentative but compliant one, many in Washington will be tempted by the latter. But haven't we already discovered in other Middle East countries the problems with that choice?
The United States must hand over power to Iraqis sooner rather than later, helping them rebuild their nation without imposing leaders or ideologies. A democratic Iraq will probably have a strong Islamic and Arab nationalist character. But efforts to dilute Iraq's Arab or Islamic identity would risk an extremist backlash.