Should America Fear Middle East Democracy?

Rob Satloff, Executive Director, The Washington Institute
Tamara Wittes, Research Fellow, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, The Brookings Institution
Shadi Hamid, Director of Research, The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)

Moderated by:
Will Marshall, PPI President

Two years ago, the Bush administration unveiled its forward strategy for freedom, making democracy promotion the centerpiece of its Middle East strategy. Now, following electoral gains by Islamist extremists in Iran, the Palestinian territories, and Lebanon, the White House has stepped back from that ambitious, if not utopian, project.

Yet many experts believe that promoting political reform and democracy in the region remains essential to provide legitimate and peaceful outlets for popular grievances. In a new study for the Progressive Policy Institute, Engaging Political Islam to Promote Democracy, Shadi Hamid calls the fear of political Islam a stumbling block for U.S. efforts to stimulate democratic politics in the region. The embedded contradiction in American policy – between wanting democracy and fearing its outcomes – has prevented the Bush administration from adopting a more effective, coherent approach to supporting democracy abroad.

Should the United States recognize and engage mainstream Islamic parties, or should it return to its old policy of stability in the Middle East? Are such parties truly committed to democracy, or do they see elections as tactics to be abandoned once theyve gained power?

Please join PPI for a discussion of these crucial questions.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007
9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Progressive Policy Institute
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, Suite 400
Washington, DC

*Breakfast will be served.*

RSVP: (202) 547-0001 or [email protected] .