Issues In International Policy Discussion

Discussion Issue: The emergence of the democratic movements in the Arab Spring, and the overthrow of many of the regions long-standing rulers, has placed U.S. policy makers in a difficult situation. Given the strategic importance of the region, the U.S. has long had a policy supporting political stability, and has supported many autocratic regimes, some with a history of repression of their domestic populations. At the same time, the U.S. has always been a public advocate of democracy devoting significant resources to democracy promotion. These two competing U.S. interests have led the government to adopt a nuanced approach to the uprisings in the Arab world. Critics have labelled the approach as incoherent, while supporters claim it is necessary and reflects an understanding of the region’s differences.

President Trump has not changed much in terms of policy towards the Middle East.  Like his predecessors, he has supported traditional U.S. allies in the region like Israel and Saudi Arabia. From his statements from both during the campaign and in the White House, it appears that Mr. Trump, in general, would offer support for dictators who provide stability (Links to an external site.), even at the cost of the repression of democratic movements.  In this way, Mr. Trump’s policies are more in line with U.S. policies from the 1980s, which valued regional stability and led to the support of numerous dictators through Latin and South America.  

Who is right from a policy perspective? Should the U.S. adopt a uniform approach to the conflicts in the Arab Spring, or should the U.S. continue to employ an individualized approach that looks at the circumstances in each country?  If a uniform approach, should the U.S. favor stability (even if it means supporting dictators) or democracy promotion (even if it leads to instability)?

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In addressing this question, I expect you to engage in the policy analysis that we have been doing throughout the course. Reference the authors in your textbooks and supplemental readings where appropriate, and state your own position. You posting should be no less than 250 words.

Required Readings:

  1. Lecture Book, Chapter 8. 
  2. Hill, Ch. 1.5, pp. 74-84.
  3. Annual Editions, pp. 70-75
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