An ‘Iron Hand’ Is No Substitute For Democracy
The experience of the former Soviet Union’s struggles to make the transition to a more open society holds an important lesson for the Middle East, a region in which the democratic tide still swells despite panicked opposition from some and the efforts of others to regulate its tempo.
Confidence in Democracy and Capitalism Wanes in Former Soviet Union
Two decades after the Soviet Union’s collapse, Russians, Ukrainians, and Lithuanians are unhappy with the direction of their countries and disillusioned with the state of their politics. Enthusiasm for democracy and capitalism has waned considerably and most believe the changes that have taken place have had a negative impact on many aspects of public life.
Arab Spring Fails to Improve U.S. Image
The rise of pro-democracy movements in the Middle East has not led to an improvement in America’s image in the region. Instead, in key Arab nations and in other predominantly Muslim countries, views of the U.S. remain negative, as they have been for nearly a decade. And, with the exception of Indonesia, Obama remains unpopular in the Muslim nations polled.
Will Enthusiasm for Democracy Endure in Egypt and Elsewhere?
While the parallels between former Soviet bloc countries and Middle Eastern nations should not be overdrawn, the experience of Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet empire is a useful reminder that public enthusiasm for democracy is not guaranteed as political change extends over years and decades.
Historically, Public Has Given Low Priority to Promoting Democracy Overseas
Americans like the idea of their government promoting democracy in other nations. But democracy promotion has historically lagged far behind other objectives among the public’s long-term foreign policy goals.
Egypt, Democracy and Islam
In a survey conducted last spring, a majority of Egyptian Muslims said that democracy was preferable to any other kind of government. An overwhelming majority also believes Islam’s influence in politics is positive.