The Middle East’s Crisis of Democracy Is Inseparable From the West’s

The Middle East’s Crisis of Democracy Is Inseparable From the West’s
An anti-government protester waves a Lebanese flag in front of a burning barricade on a road leading to the parliament building, Beirut, Lebanon, Nov. 13, 2019 (AP photo by Bilal Hussein).

The events of recent years have made it increasingly clear that the assault on human rights and democracy in the West and the Middle East are not merely parallel phenomena—they are directly connected. As both regions experience an intense surge of authoritarianism as well as the resulting popular resistance to it, it’s imperative for sound analysis and policymaking to identify the dynamics linking today’s crises across national borders and geographic regions.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the problems with exceptionalism and the limitations of regional frameworks, after decades of writing about the Middle East and U.S. policy there. And since 9/11, it’s become increasingly clear that it is impossible to disaggregate the major socio-political problems that the two regions share.

Washington’s partnerships in the Middle East underwrote authoritarian rulers and military dictatorships, as well as repression and terrible governance. Those same authoritarian governments pioneered tactics of surveillance, torture and coercion through unaccountable police and hybrid militia, as a means of regime survival—tactics picked up by governments in the West and beyond. Washington’s “forever wars” wreaked havoc on the Arab state system, while creating a domestic cohort of security state employees steeped in a toxic brew of impunity, militarization and lazy stereotypes about terrorism, Islam and foreigners.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to WPR’s fully searchable library of 16,000+ articles
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday
  • Weekly in-depth reports on important issues and countries
  • Daily links to must-read news and analysis from top sources around the globe, curated by our keen-eyed team of editors
  • The Weekly Wrap-Up email, with highlights of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review