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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 27, 2011 / 22 Shevat, 5771

Tunisia, Egypt, Arab world need bold US support for democracy, not mixed messages

By Shadi Hamid






The Obama administration is missing a huge opportunity. Instead of continuing to invest in authoritarian Arab governments, America must start supporting the political changes already well underway. Here's how and why


JewishWorldReview.com |

noha, Qatar — (TCSM) In a historic first for the Arab world, Tunisians toppled their longtime dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, on Jan. 14 after nearly a month of popular revolt. Drawing inspiration from Tunisia, an unprecedented wave of protests and rioting has spread to Algeria, Libya, Jordan, and Egypt. With rising unemployment, restless youth, and aging, ailing leaders, it looks as if the region is in for a winter, spring, and summer of discontent. The fall of what seemed one of the most stable Arab regimes has the world wondering who might be next.

It is also worth wondering how Western powers, particularly the United States, will react. The faulty assumptions of US policy — that stability can be purchased at the cost of freedom — have been laid bare. With the upsurge in popular, possibly revolutionary anger in the Middle East, this is the time to reconsider failed approaches and advance a bold policy supporting the political changes already well underway.

Most American policymakers understand that Arab regimes will fall — eventually — but no one thought it would happen under their watch. The US, preoccupied with more important matters, such as investing in a floundering Middle East peace process, has once again found itself in the weak position of reacting to, rather than influencing, key regional developments. Those hoping for a policy "reorientation," in the wake of Tunisia, are likely to be disappointed. The initial signs are not encouraging.

US SUPPORT OF AUTHORITARIAN ARAB GOVERNMENTS
On Jan. 25, Egypt arguably saw, according to some estimates, the largest pro-democracy protests in its history. The "day of revolution" exceeded all expectations, signaling that surprises are becoming the Arab norm. In that context, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's statement that "our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable" seemed oddly retro and uncannily similar to what President Jimmy Carter said about the Shah's Iran in 1977.

President Obama has also weighed in, but more by what he chose not to say. On Jan. 18, he phoned his Egyptian counterpart, President Hosni Mubarak. They discussed a number of issues, including Iran and the Arab-Israeli conflict. They did not, however, discuss the need for political reform in Egypt.

The US has backed its rhetoric, or lack of it, with action. On Jan. 12, more than three weeks into the Tunisia uprising — and after protests had spread across the region — the State Department granted $100 million in new funding to the Jordanian government to boost employment and strengthen the health and education sectors. Presumably, this will help the Kingdom diffuse popular anger over worsening economic conditions.

These actions have a clear intent — to protect the stability of a state perceived as strategically vital to US interests.


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For at least three decades, America's relationship with the Arab world has been defined along these lines. The State Department's institutional knowledge and contacts in the region are all oriented around the regimes in power, rather than their oppositions. (In many cases, the US has no real relationship with the latter.)

This is to say nothing of the Defense Department, military, and CIA, which enjoy extensive security ties with many of the governments in question. For example, US military assistance to Egypt — at $1.3 billion — is more than six times the amount of economic aid.

In short, America's fundamental orientation in the Middle East is one of over-reliance on the very regimes whose stability looks increasingly compromised.

HARD TO SHIFT GEARS NOW
Considering the amount of resources invested in the Arab authoritarian order, it will be challenging for policymakers to shift gears, even if they now feel they should. What makes it more difficult is that, today, Washington lacks a strong, coherent pro-democracy constituency at home.

While Democrats have unfortunately, but understandably, distanced themselves from democracy promotion abroad, it is unclear why neoconservatives have not been more vocal in support of these new stirrings of change. Certainly the Republican agenda in Congress is now largely colored by the influence of the domestic-focused tea party, with a push to rein in spending and foreign commitments. But though they have lost clout, neoconservatives are still influential within Republican ranks.

Yet until the final days of the Tunisia uprising, they, like the Obama administration, were relatively quiet.

Interestingly, when neoconservatives did finally take to hailing Tunisia's "Jasmine Revolution," warnings of growing Islamist influence were often interspersed with democratic optimism. The exiled Islamist leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, was planning his return to Tunis, and Islamists, after decades of near total suppression, were ripe for resurgence. This is the same old US dilemma: wanting democracy but not necessarily its outcomes. (And in this case, the outcomes in Tunisia and the rest of the region are likely to make Americans uncomfortable.)

DEMOCRATIC CHANGES NEED US SUPPORT
Some might argue that this is not about America, but about Tunisians fighting for Tunisia and Egyptians fighting for Egypt. Accordingly, Obama, the neoconservatives, and anyone else should just "stay out of it." But the notion of democratic transitions as organic and homegrown — a post-Bush platitude — while technically true, is also misleading. Democratic transitions are incredibly difficult. But they are even more difficult without the support of the international community.

Western assistance can sometimes be decisive, as it was during the Color Revolutions in Eastern Europe. Youth movements like Otpor in Serbia and Pora in Ukraine received millions of dollars, extensive technical assistance, and moral support from Western governments.

This support for democracy would not have happened without the agitation of activists and policymakers in Washington who shared an ideological commitment to the vigorous support of democracy abroad. Sometimes, political will, more than anything else, can have a dramatic impact in forcing stagnant US policies in a new direction.

America doesn't need neoconservatives. What it does need is a diverse constituency, on both the left and right, committed to human rights and democracy as an animating force in US foreign policy. Perhaps now more than ever, Arab democracy needs advocates. Oddly, they've become more difficult to find.


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Shadi Hamid is director of research at the Brookings Doha Center and a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.


© 2011, The Christian Science Monitor.