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  • Author: Casey Garret Johnson, William A. Byrd, Sanaullah Tasal
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The still unsigned Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between Afghanistan and the United States provides the legal basis for continuing U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. In addition to its substantive importance, the BSA is also a confidence-building mechanism. The delay in putting it in place is compounding uncertainty and further diminishing economic confidence during Afghanistan's already challenging and uncertain transition. Afghans' responses include, among others, hedging behavior (legal and illegal), personal decisions on whether to come back to or stay in Afghanistan, delays in investments, incipient job losses, declining demand for goods and services and real estate prices, and farmers planting more opium poppy.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Democratization, Development, Treaties and Agreements, Insurgency, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Asia
  • Author: Nadia Naviwala
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: PakVotes, a pilot project supported by the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), used social media platforms and a network of reporters located in areas outside of major cities in Pakistan to track violence during the 2013 elections. The project offers lessons that could guide future efforts to use social media to record and publicize conflicts and the use of violence during elections and other major events. The hashtag #PakVotes trended for several days around elections, serving as a popular alternative news source to the mainstream media, which was not as diverse in its geographic coverage, sources or story types.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Non-Governmental Organization, Science and Technology, Mass Media
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, South Asia
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: In a region that recently has produced virtually nothing but bad news, Hassan Rouhani's 4 August swearing in as Iran's president offers a rare and welcome glimmer of hope. There are still far more questions than answers: about the extent of his authority; his views on his country's nuclear program, with which he long has been associated; and the West's ability to display requisite flexibility and patience. But, although both sides can be expected to show caution, now is the time to put more ambitious proposals on the table, complement the multilateral talks with a bilateral U.S.-Iranian channel and expand the dialogue to encompass regional security issues.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Democratization, Diplomacy, Islam, Nuclear Weapons, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Bruce E. Bechtol
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: South Korea is in a unique position. It is an economic powerhouse and a thriving democracy that faces the most ­ominous and imminent threat on its borders of any democracy in the world. Moreover, this is a threat that continues to evolve, with increasing missile, cyber, special operations, and nuclear capabilities and a new leader who shows no signs that he will be any less ruthless or belligerent than his father. To meet this threat, Seoul has undertaken a number of efforts to better deter and defend against North Korean capabilities and provocations, including increasing the defense budget, upping training with US forces, creating new command elements, and establishing plans for preemptive strikes against imminent North Korean missile launches. However, in part because of administration changes in Seoul, the South Korean effort has been uneven. And decisions remain to be made in the areas of missile defense, tactical fighter aircraft, and command-and-control arrangements that will be significant for not only South Korea but all states that have an interest in Northeast Asia's peace and stability.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Democratization, Development, Emerging Markets, Nuclear Weapons, Bilateral Relations, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: United States, East Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Richard LeBaron
  • Publication Date: 02-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Two important issues are testing relations between the United States and its allies in the Gulf: democratic transitions in the Arab world and regional security. Their outcome will either strengthen or disrupt what has been a long-term partnership. The United States and its Gulf allies are well into their second year of reacting to, and attempting to influence, the rapid political change in the Middle East and North Africa, but their efforts are informed by differing motivations. Meanwhile the looming threat of Iran attaining nuclear weapons has brought greater urgency to efforts to enhance Gulf security, but also some disquiet in the Gulf about any possible US deal with Iran that would serve global non-proliferation interests but threaten their vital regional security interests.
  • Topic: Democratization, International Security, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, North Africa, North America
  • Author: Barbara Slavin, Yasmin Alem
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Iran has never had what the West would regard as free, fair, and competitive elections. Some would point to the brief periods following the 1906 Constitutional Revolution and between the end of World War II and 1953, when a CIA-backed coup re-installed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, as possible exceptions to this rule. The upcoming presidential elections this June will be no such exception, with candidates restricted to eight proven loyalists to the regime. Nevertheless, the vote will be an important barometer of the stability and durability of an embattled regime that is increasingly unpopular domestically and isolated internationally. The elections will also produce a new turn of the kaleidoscope within Iran's shrinking political elite, as existing factions break apart and regroup. The next president is likely to be more moderate in tone, if not in policy, and more competent and less divisive than the outgoing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This could have important implications not just for the country's domestic course but for Iran's confrontation with the United States and the international community over the nuclear question.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Islam, Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Stephen J. Hadley, Steven A. Cook, Madeleine Albright
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Among the most important developments in international affairs of the past decade is the emergence of Turkey as a rising regional and global power. Turkey has long been an important country as a stalwart member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), an aspirant to European Union (EU) membership, and an important link between the West and the East. Yet the changes in Turkey over the past decade have been so dramatic—with far-reaching political and economic reforms, significant social reforms, and an active foreign policy—that the country is virtually unrecognizable to longtime Turkey watchers. Today Turkey is more democratic, prosperous, and politically influential than it was five, ten, and fifteen years ago.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Political Violence, Democratization, Economics, Human Rights, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Central Asia, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Denny Roy
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Taiwan's elections on January 14, which for the first time combined polls for the presidency and the legislature, displayed further positive evolution in Taiwan's now well-established democracy. The results also precluded an immediate disruption in relations between Taiwan and the PRC, which is good news in Washington. In Beijing's view, however, the goal is not stability across the Taiwan Strait, but unification. Chinese impatience might weigh more heavily on President Ma Ying-jeou, and by extension on the United States, during Ma's second term.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Democratization, Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Washington, Taiwan, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Max Boot
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Afghanistan is approaching a major inflection point in its long and turbulent history. In 2014 most of the foreign military forces are due to pull out. With them will go the bulk of foreign financing that has accounted for almost all of the state's budget. Twenty fourteen is also the year that Afghanistan is due to hold presidential elections. Hamid Karzai, the only president the country has known since the fall of the Taliban, has said he will not seek another term in office. Thus Afghanistan is likely to have a new president to lead it into a new era. This era will be shaped by many factors, principally decisions made by Afghans themselves, but the United States has the ability to affect the outcome if it makes a sustained commitment to maintain security, improve the political process, and reduce Pakistani interference so as to build on the tenuous gains achieved by the U.S. troop surge since 2010.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Democratization, Islam, Terrorism, War, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Taliban
  • Author: Priscilla Clapp, Suzanne DiMaggio
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Asia Society
  • Abstract: In January 2012, an Asia Society delegation visited Burma/Myanmar to engage in a Track II dialogue with the Myanmar Development Resources Institute (MDRI), a newly created, independent think tank based in Yangon. The MDRI participants in the dialogue include advisors with a mandate to provide policy advice in the areas of political, economic, and legal affairs to President Thein Sein and his government. The goal of this informal dialogue is to establish an ongoing channel of communication between experts from both countries and to explore opportunities to advance U.S.–Myanmar relations during a particularly fluid and fragile period of transition in Myanmar.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization, Development, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Asia, Southeast Asia, Myanmar
  • Author: John Campbell
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: As Zimbabwe moves closer to elections, the prospect for political violence, even civil war, grows. President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are wrangling over a new constitution and the timing of upcoming elections. The eighty-eight-year-old Mugabe is suffering from cancer and wants elections soon to ensure his "liberation" legacy. At the same time, Mugabe-allied military factions, flush with off-the-books cash from Marange diamonds mined in the eastern part of the country, are mobilizing to stay in power when Mugabe dies. Political murder is on the upswing and Zimbabwe is as tense and divided now as it was during the run-up to the violent 2008 elections.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Corruption, Democratization, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, South Africa, Zimbabwe
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Human Rights First
  • Abstract: President Obama's 2009 Cairo speech and Secretary Clinton's 2012 speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace persuasively argued for policies that promote international religious freedom (IRF), including links to national security, economic development, and democracy promotion, and as an antidote to religious extremism and terrorism. Unfortunately, current IRF policy--in place since 1998 and largely built around the threat of economic sanctions which no administration has been willing to use--is not up to the challenges or the opportunities that President Obama and Secretary Clinton so eloquently identified. To correct that, the White House needs to embrace a leadership role, building an infrastructure and providing the necessary resources for a reinvigorated policy of new tools and strategies to thrive. The need is pressing.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Economics, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Sean R. Roberts
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: In looking at twenty years of independence in the former Soviet region of Central Asia, Kazakhstan stands out in most respects as a stable oasis in a desert of uncertainty. It is the wealthiest country in Central Asia. It has not suffered any serious conflict since gaining independence, and the development of its economy, financial sector, and private sector has been steadily moving forward as has its engagement with the global economy. It is little wonder, therefore, that the most stable and fruitful bilateral partnership for the United States in the region over the past twenty years has been with the Republic of Kazakhstan. US-Kazakhstan relations have never experienced a significant crisis, and there has been ongoing cooperation between the two countries in a variety of areas, including nuclear non-proliferation, economic development, and energy extraction.
  • Topic: Democratization, Diplomacy, Economics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Central Asia, Kazakhstan
  • Author: Karim Mezran, Fadel Lamen
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The fragile progress towards a more pluralistic, if not yet democratic, Libya is threatened by several serious security problems. Car bombings, political assassinations of high ranking officials, attacks on foreign diplomatic staff and NGOs, and violent quarrels between armed militiamen have become daily events. It is in the interests of the United States and other members of the international community to aid Libya's nascent government in achieving national reconciliation to avoid an otherwise inevitable descent into anarchy.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Democratization, Diplomacy, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: United States, Libya, North Africa
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The following sampling of comments by Muslim Brotherhood leadership in Egypt explains the group's position in the current crisis and its attitudes towards the United States, Israel, and the rest of the Arab world.
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As the situation in Egypt continues to unfold, U.S. policy has evolved with breathtaking speed. Just last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that the Mubarak regime was stable, but by Tuesday evening, President Obama was making the remarkable statement that Egypt's transition needs to begin "now." This is not only the most serious foreign policy challenge to this U.S. administration, but also one in a list of unforeseen and improbable challenges. Unlike scenarios involving, for example, a North Korean provocation against the South or even a catastrophic terrorist attack -- for which the United States plans and prepares -- the swift demise of Hosni Mubarak's presidency, along with the virtual disappearance of the ruling National Democratic Party and the potential fall of a regime that has been a pillar of U.S. standing in the Middle East for thirty-five years, is an unimagined challenge.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Mohammed ElBaradei
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: "For years, the West has bought Mr. Mubarak's demonization of the Muslim Brotherhood lock, stock and barrel, the idea that the only alternative here are these demons called the Muslim Brotherhood who are the equivalent of Al Qaeda's... I am pretty sure that any freely and fairly elected government in Egypt will be a moderate one, but America is really pushing Egypt and pushing the whole Arab world into radicalization with this inept policy of supporting repression."
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Israel, Arabia, Egypt, Vienna
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 16, Bahraini security forces used brute force to clear democracy protestors from Manama's Pearl Square, on orders from a regime seemingly undaunted by international media coverage and the near-instantaneous self-reporting of Twitter-generation demonstrators. Although the relatively small size of the crowds (compared to recent protests in Egypt and Tunisia) facilitated the crackdown, the action is best explained by the regime's long-held mindset regarding dissent. Specifically, the Bahraini ruling elite believe that any political challenge by the island's Shiite majority must be quickly suppressed -- a view backed by the royal family in neighboring Saudi Arabia and violently enforced in Bahrain despite significant Sunni participation in the protests. This Saudi factor, and the looming presence of Iran across the Persian Gulf, elevates the Bahrain crisis to a U.S. policy challenge on par with events in Egypt.
  • Topic: Democratization, Insurgency, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Island, Tunisia
  • Author: Toby C. Jones
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Saudi Arabia is pursuing a combination of domestic and regional policies that risk destabilizing the Persian Gulf and that risk undermining the United States interests there. Amid calls for political change, Saudi Arabia is failing to address pressing concerns about its political system and the need for political reform. Instead of responding favorably to calls for more political openness, the Kingdom is pursuing a risky domestic agenda, which ignores the social, economic, and political grievances that might fuel popular mobilization.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Democratization, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Jim Harper
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Government transparency is a widely agreed upon goal, but progress on achieving it has been very limited. Transparency promises from political leaders such as President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner have not produced a burst of information that informs stronger public oversight of government. One reason for this is the absence of specifically prescribed data practices that will foster transparency.
  • Topic: Democratization, Political Economy, Politics, Communications, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Teemu Sinkkonen
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The electoral defeat suffered by the ruling Socialist Party (Partido Socialista Obrero Español, PSOE) in the municipal elections and the prolonged financial crisis has forced Prime Minister Zapatero to call an early general election on 20 November. The Conservative People's Party (Partido Popular, PP) is ahead in the polls by a clear margin and is likely to gain an absolute majority in the parliament. The economic outlook for Spain looks bleak, which means that the new government will have to create new jobs quickly and push through harsh and unpopular reforms, particularly regarding the fiscal and administrative structures. The Indignados protest movement is gaining support, and looks set to challenge the legitimacy of the system and force the future government to produce speedy results. Spain is expected to enhance its role in international politics through pragmatic bilateral relations. In particular, relations with the US seem to be warming up, while Spain can turn to the UK and Poland in the EU for companionship
  • Topic: Debt, Democratization, Economics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Europe, Spain
  • Author: Rusty Barber, William B. Taylor
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Successful attacks on key government buildings underscore worries about whether Iraqis can manage their own security. They mask, however, something new in Iraqi society: an emerging vox populi that found potent expression in provincial elections last January, despite the odds. As national elections approach in March, political leaders are realizing that they ignore this growing voice at their peril. Aware that American attention is shifting towards other problems at home and abroad, Iraqis are nervously contemplating how much U.S. support they can expect going forward in their fragile experiment in democratic governance. The U.S. role in helping Iraqis prepare for national elections has been crucial and largely welcome—it should continue through the transition to a new government. Successful complete withdrawal by 2012 depends on an Iraqi government that is responsive to its people’s basic needs and capable of evolving peacefully via fair elections. Longer term, there are several critical areas on which a distracted and resource stretched America should focus. These include intensifying efforts to help Arabs and Kurds resolve disputes and forestall the need for an extended U.S. military presence in northern Iraq. Helping Iraq protect its borders – a vulnerability highlighted by Iran’s recent incursion—and nudging the Gulf Arab states to more actively engage Iraq as an emerging partner in regional security and economic structures will also be key to stability inside and beyond Iraq’s borders. If water is the “new oil” in terms of its resource value and potential to create conflict, that future is now playing out in Iraq. Shortages and poor quality are already causing serious health and economic problems, displacement and raising tensions with Iraq’s neighbors. The U.S. can help here on both the diplomatic and technical sides of the issue.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Thomas Carothers
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The Bush's administration's highly problematic legacy on democracy promotion and general pessimism about the global state of democracy create pressure on the Obama administration to pull the United States substantially back from supporting democracy abroad. Although dissociating U.S. democracy support from the errors of the Bush approach is crucial, a broad realist corrective of U.S. policy is not necessary. The way forward for Obama will be more about changing how the United States goes about supporting democracy abroad than about what emphasis to place on democracy relative to other interests. Cardinal values of Obama's political philosophy and style—non-confrontational, measured, persistent, bipartisan, cooperative, effective, and empowering—provide a natural basis for a new framework to help the United States regain its place as a respected, trusted, and influential ally of democracy around the world.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Democratization, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Kerry Brown
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: Over the last two decades, as Mainland China has been developing and liberalizing its economy, Taiwan has been undergoing an equally remarkable but very different political transformation, from martial law in 1987 to its current status as one of the most vibrant, stable democracies in Asia. Despite its eventful experience of the democratization process, the parliamentary and presidential elections in 2008 proved that Taiwan is now a mature, and stable, democracy. It has passed the ultimate test, seeing the successful transition of rule from one party to another and back again, without social turmoil. Economic performance over the same period has been less striking. Once among the fastestgrowing economies, Taiwan is now afflicted by a relatively low growth rate, and problems over the outflow of capital and investment to the Mainland. The potential for conflict over cross-straits relations remains but it has been significantly reduced under President Ma and by the Mainland Chinese government's greater accommodation with a democratic Taiwan in the last decade. The risk of a military conflict between the two sides, which could drag in the US, and therefore the rest of the world, cannot be entirely discounted, however. Taiwan's greatest challenges in the next decade remain the same as in the last – to maintain its identity, to develop its democratic system, and to handle relations with the Mainland in a way that preserves its interests while avoiding conflict. Taiwan's system, which has so far proved itself robust and effective, faces a new challenge too: how to benefit from the increase in Mainland investment abroad.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Israel, Taiwan, Asia
  • Author: Scott Carpenter
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: The Obama administration marks the return of a so-called "realist" approach and an intentional downplaying of President Bush's vision of an America that would use its power actively to advance freedom around the world. Few will lament the demise of Bush's "Freedom Agenda," which came to be seen as dangerous naivete which risked the stability of the region and with it Israel's security. The height of folly was the Palestinian elections in January 2006 when, in contradiction to the Oslo Accords, Hamas was allowed to compete and ultimately win without laying down its weapons. Too late, the administration recognized it could no longer take the risk of bringing potentially hostile forces to power through democratic elections. Unfortunately, neither approach addresses the structural and demographic time bombs in the region. A youth "bulge" requires the creation of 100 million new jobs by 2010, according to the World Bank. Yet if economic reform is to be advanced and sustained, democratic development must also take place. The U.S. government can use Arab governments' insecurity regarding Iran as leverage to encourage real reform. This is particularly true for Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia - now engaged in the ideological fight of their lives with Iran and its reactionary allies. Only by establishing a new bargain with these regimes that stresses the need for them to respect internal civil and political rights, while forging a joint response to the reactionary threat, can the U.S. offer a true alternative to theocratic and minority rule. This is not to say that democratic and economic reform need be the priority for the West, but it must remain a priority, if otherwise intractable problems which pose a longer-term national security threat are to be addressed. Allowing autocrats to continue to get away with inaction will simply make the coming tidal wave of Iranian-style revolutions larger and more damaging, placing Israel's existence in even greater jeopardy than it is now.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Foreign Policy, Democratization
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Kurt Bassuener, James Lyon
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This is the first of three papers USIP will publish this month on Bosnia, each with a different analytical perspective on what is happening in Bosnia and what needs to be done there to prevent a return to violence. We do this in the hope that these papers will generate a fuller debate on options that might be pursued by the U.S. government (USG), Europe and Bosnians.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Democratization, Peace Studies, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Balkans
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Nearly three months have passed since Iran's bloody crackdown on the mass protests over the controversial June 12 presidential election. The Obama administration, however, has yet to determine a strategy to support the first serious challenge to the regime since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Last week's statement by Iran's top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei -- that he saw no proof the British or the West were behind the protests -- should encourage the United States to pursue a more assertive approach to support Iranians working for change. Nevertheless, the State Department's Iran Democracy Fund -- currently the only tool available for promoting democracy in Iran -- has been extremely cautious in its funding decisions since President Barack Obama's inauguration.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Diplomacy, Islam, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iran
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter, David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 18, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak travels to Washington for a White House meeting with President Barack Obama. The trip -- Mubarak's first visit to the United States in six years -- marks the culmination of a six-month effort by the Obama administration to hit the reset button with Cairo. After years of tension resulting from the last administration's focus on human rights and democratic development, the traditional U.S.-Egyptian bilateral "bargain" has been effectively restored. In exchange for cooperation on key mutual interests -- the peace process and the Iranian threat --Washington appears to have shelved longstanding concerns over internal Egyptian governance. While the new dynamic may help mitigate some regional crises, the political and economic challenges Cairo faces will not age well, particularly as the state enters its first period of leadership transition in twenty-eight years.
  • Topic: Democratization, Human Rights, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Washington, Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Marina Ottaway
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The Bush administration's democratization rhetoric was never buttressed by an unambiguous, sustained policy to promote political reform. Concerns about security and stability have now virtually halted U.S. democracy promotion efforts. This is a short-sighted policy because political reform is imperative in countries where political systems remain stagnant in the face of rapid societal change. The United States needs to renew its efforts, taking into account that past policies have undermined its credibility in the region. It thus must abandon the empty rhetoric of the last few years in favor of modest goals developed and pursued in cooperation with regional and local actors, rather than imposed from Washington.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The name Fethullah Gülen is virtually unknown in the United States. Self-exiled here for more than a decade, this prominent Turkish theological and political thinker is the leader of a movement estimated conservatively to have more than a million followers in Turkey. The movement controls a business empire of charities, real estate, companies, and schools. Thousands of Gülen's followers populate Turkey's bureaucracies. AEI's Michael Rubin believes that, just as many people remained clueless or belittled concerns about Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's intentions in Iran thirty years ago, many may be making the same mistake today about Gülen, who professes to want to weld Islam with tolerance and a pro-European outlook. Rubin introduces us to a man who could play a prominent role in Turkey's future at a time when Turkey's "secular order and constitutionalism have never been so shaky."
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Robert M. Perito
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In December 2006, the Iraq Study Group reported that the Iraqi Interior Ministry (MOI) was confronted by corruption, infiltrated by militia and unable to control the Iraqi police. In July 2007, the Los Angeles Times reported that Iraq's MOI had become a "federation of oligarchs" where various floors of the building were controlled by rival militia groups and organized criminal gangs. The report described the MOI as an eleven-story powder keg of factions where power struggles were settled by assassinations in the parking lot. In its September 2007 report, the congressionally mandated Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq described Iraq's MOI as a ministry in name only, dysfunctional, sectarian and suffering from ineffective leadership. Even Iraq's Interior Minister, Jawad al-Boulani, has called for the comprehensive reform of his ministry.
  • Topic: Democratization
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Lincoln A. Mitchell, David L. Phillips
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The Research Project on Enhancing Democracy Assistance is undertaken by the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, the Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies of the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, and the Atlantic Council of the United States. This report recognizes that democracy assistance is essential to the promotion of US foreign policy and global interests, and offers political and technical recommendations in order to enhance democracy assistance.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization, Development, Globalization, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Richard Youngs, Michael Emerson
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The idea of an official organisation of democratic states wishing to promote democracy worldwide has surfaced periodically in recent years. In 2000 the Community of Democracies was inaugurated and survives as a body committed to supporting democratic change (and we comment on this little-noticed initiative further below). Now the notion is gaining further currency. US Presidential candidate John McCain has advocated a League of Democracies. And analyst Robert Kagan, an advisor to McCain, has recently made a contribution on the subject in the Financial Times. It is quite possible that the European Union will need to adopt a position on this proposal.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, International Organization
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter, Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Tomorrow, around 400,000 Omani men and women are expected to vote in elections for eighty-five seats on the nation\'s Majlis al-Shura, or Consultative Council. Among the conservative Arab states of the Persian Gulf region, Oman -- a key U.S. ally and exporter of oil and gas, strategically positioned opposite Iran -- is often considered to be the most politically progressive, perhaps even evolving slowly toward a constitutional monarchy. But the country remains dominated by its ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, and for now, the council is limited to advice on public services and infrastructure.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics, Elections
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia, Oman
  • Author: Daniel Markey
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: How should the United States respond to Pakistan's ongoing political crisis? In particular, what position should the Bush administration take with regard to Pakistan's national elections?
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Development
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, Asia
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown, Amr Hamzawy, Michele Dunne
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Even as the United States is preoccupied with how to stabilize and withdraw from Iraq, it risks missing another important opportunity to promote democracy in the Middle East. Among Arab countries Egypt is uniquely positioned to make a transition from authoritarian rule to a more liberal system and eventually to democracy. A looming presidential succession in Egypt makes such changes more feasible. But after several years of modest reforms, the Egyptian government is now backtracking and enshrining illiberal measures in its revised constitution. The United States faces a critical decision about whether to pursue reform seriously with Egypt or to abandon the project of promoting Arab democracy, at least for now.
  • Topic: International Relations, Civil Society, Democratization
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Bryan Caplan
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In theory, democracy is a bulwark against socially harmful policies. In practice, however, democracies frequently adopt and maintain policies that are damaging. How can this paradox be explained? The influence of special interests and voter ignorance are two leading explanations. I offer an alternative story of how and why democracy fails. The central idea is that voters are worse than ignorant; they are, in a word, irrational—and they vote accordingly. Despite their lack of knowledge, voters are not humble agnostics; instead, they confidently embrace a long list of misconceptions.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Roger Noriega
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Not long ago, the governments of the Americas recognized the value of working together to consolidate the historic, promising trend toward democracy. Now, with democracy being dismantled in several nations and being assailed by authoritarian Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez Frías, Latin American countries seem to have abandoned the fraternal ideal of inter-American solidarity. The United States and the Organization of American States (OAS) can both do more to salvage the regional commitment to democracy, but unless Latin American and Caribbean governments are willing to stand together to defend their principles, the end of democratic solidarity is in sight.
  • Topic: Democratization, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Latin America, Caribbean, Venezuela
  • Author: Dorina Bekoe
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Nigeria has had a grim history of electoral violence since its return to democratic rule in 1999, and with its next elections eight weeks away, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), in partnership with the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding - Nigeria (WANEP-Nigeria), held a workshop on the prevention of electoral violence. The workshop entitled, "Nigeria 2007: Building Blocks for a Peaceful Transition," took place in Abuja, Nigeria, from February 13 to February 15, 2007. Thirty-one participants from civil society organizations representing all six of Nigeria's geo-political zones attended the workshop.
  • Topic: Security, Civil Society, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Nigeria
  • Author: Lynn Tesser
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: On November 21, 2006, Nepal's government and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) signed a comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) to formally end their ten-year conflict, which has resulted in an estimated 13,000 deaths. The agreement has been widely hailed as historic and many observers feel cautiously optimistic, in spite of the hurdles that lie ahead. On January 22, 2007, the U.S. Institute of Peace sponsored a one-day program in Washington, D.C., to address the challenges Nepal now faces. It brought together a broad spectrum of attendees, from representatives of academia and international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to the U.S. Departments of State and Justice. Presenters were asked to comment on particular challenges that Nepal faces during the peace process. This USIPeace Briefing provides an overview of the presentations given at the conference, and includes remarks from Ambassador Julia Chang Bloch (former U.S. ambassador to Nepal and president of the U.S.–China Education Trust); Dr. Chitra K. Tiwari (journalist, The Washington Times); Dr. Jaya Raj Acharya (senior fellow, USIP); and Kul Chandra Gautam (assistant secretary-general of the UN and deputy executive director of UNICEF). It was prepared by Lynn Tesser, program officer in USIP's Jennings Randolph Fellowship program.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Government, International Law
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Asia, Nepal
  • Author: Beth Cole, Catherine Morris
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Taliban fighters have re-emerged in full force in Afghanistan and insurgency-related violence has increased to record levels, resulting in 2,732 fatalities between September 1, 2006, and February 25, 2007. According to the United Nations, the 35,460-strong International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), along with the 8,000 troops deployed under the United States-led coalition command, has begun its own offensive against the insurgency in the south, targeting opium growing regions and Taliban safe zones. From safe havens in the Pakistan border areas, the Taliban are now pursuing a long-term strategy of exploiting their control of remote villages to gain control of districts and then regions. Thus, a conflict that had been pushed down on the U.S. and international agendas is now reemerging. As the Taliban regroups and continues its insurgency, the international community is faced with the need to re-evaluate and strengthen its own plan of action.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Asia, Taliban
  • Author: Daniel Serwer
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: War in Iraq has lasted more than four years. It has required far greater resources than anticipated. The longer-term goals are still far from realization. The price the United States and Iraq are paying in blood and treasure continues to mount. The time has come to chart a clearer path forward, taking into account the regional and global contexts. Americans want an approach that protects U.S. vital interests and can therefore be supported across a wide range of the political spectrum. As Washington prepares for a critical debate in Congress this fall on what should be done in Iraq, the United States Institute of Peace convened over the summer a group of experts with many different political affiliations to consider next steps over a three-year time horizon. This USIPeace Briefing, prepared by Daniel Serwer, USIP vice president for peace and stability operations, describes their main conclusions. Areas of serious disagreement are noted. Those participants in the discussions wishing to be identified are listed at the end. This USIPeace Briefing does not represent the views of the United States Institute of Peace, which does not take positions on policy issues.
  • Topic: Democratization, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Andrew Exum, Zack Snyder
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On December 26, 2006, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak proposed a package of amendments to the Egyptian constitution with the purported aim of introducing more democratic freedom into Egypt's sclerotic political system. In effect, however, these "reforms" will serve only to strengthen the ruling party's stranglehold on Egyptian politics and send Egypt farther down the road toward authoritarian rule. On Monday, March 26, after minimal public debate, the Egyptian populace will vote on this package of amendments through referendum. Opposition groups are expected to boycott the vote.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization
  • Political Geography: United States, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: By electing a parliament dominated by Hamas, Palestinians have sharply challenged U.S. policy. The initial American reaction—undermining the new government—will leave the population in chaos, with various Palestinian groups vying for influence. Political constraints preclude anything but a Hamas government in the short term. But the Hamas victory should not be viewed as a defeat for the American vision of reform—which, indeed, may offer a path out of the current deadlock. The United States should develop a policy for the longer term to continue calming the Israeli- Palestinian conflict; maintain the Palestinian Authority; and work for political reform by focusing on the judiciary, media, and other institutions that are independent of the current regime.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Premier Vojislav Kostunica won a high stakes gamble with passage of Serbia's draft constitution in the 28-29 October referendum. However, numerous credible reports indicate the process was deeply flawed and the result falsified. The referendum cannot be characterised as either free or fair. The new constitution could prove a step away from European values. It opens the door to increased centralisation of the state, curtailment of human and minority rights, destruction of judicial independence and potentially even a parliamentary dictatorship. The process used to pass the constitution illustrates how Kostunica continues to transform Serbia into something closer to illiberal authoritarianism than liberal democracy; yet, the referendum was welcomed by the Council of Europe, the European Union and the United States.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Eastern Europe, Serbia
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The risk of an explosion that could cost thousands of lives in the country and shatter the stability of Southern Africa is growing in Zimbabwe. Political reform is blocked, and virtually every economic indicator continues to trend downward. Inflation, poverty and malnutrition are growing more acute. Party and civil society opponents of President Mugabe's government are yet to tap effectively into the living-standards-based dissatisfaction but it could finally become the spark that sets Zimbabwe toward change. The course is risky but Zimbabwe's splintered opposition needs to come together to formulate a campaign of non-violent resistance that channels this anger and frustration into pressure on Mugabe to keep his word to retire by 2008 and on his ruling ZANU-PF party to negotiate seriously on a transition. The international community, long frustrated at its inability to influence the crisis, should assist, especially by tightening targeted sanctions (U.S./EU) and offering mediation services (South Africa).
  • Topic: Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, South Africa, Zimbabwe
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: With stepped-up U.S.-led raids against Muqtada al-Sadr's militia, Jaysh al-Mahdi, and media allegations of the militia's responsibility for widespread and particularly horrendous sectarian killings in Baghdad on 9 July, the Shiite leader and his movement have become more central than ever. The war in Iraq radically reshuffled the country's political deck, bringing to the fore new actors and social forces, none more surprising and enigmatic, and few as critical to Iraq's stability, as Muqtada al-Sadr and the Sadrist movement he embodies. Largely unknown prior to the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime and bereft of resources Shiites typically must possess to assert their authority, Muqtada al-Sadr at first was dismissed as a marginal rabble-rouser, excluded from the political process and, after he flexed his muscles, decreed wanted “dead or alive” by the U.S.-led coalition. Learning the hard way, the U.S. and its allies have had to recognise the reality of the Sadrists' strength.
  • Topic: Democratization, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: James Q. Wilson
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: When President George W. Bush said that America hopes to spread democracy to all the world, he was echoing a sentiment many people support. Though Americans do not put “extending democracy” near the top of their list of foreign policy objectives (preventing terrorism is their chief goal), few would deny that if popular rule is extended it would improve lives around the world. Democracy, of course, means rule by the people. But the devil is in the details. By one count, the number of democracies quintupled in the second half of the twentieth century, but there are freedom- loving and freedom-disdaining democracies. Fareed Zakaria calls the latter “illiberal democracies.” Among them are Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Ukraine, and Venezuela.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Venezuela
  • Author: Emily Hsu, Beth DeGrasse
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Since they reorganized their forces in Pakistan in 2003, Taliban and other anti-government militia have sought to disrupt democratization efforts and sow a climate of fear in Afghanistan. As a result, violence has crept back onto the international radar screen in the last couple of years, a brutal reminder the insurgency is far from defeated. This rise in bloodshed is particularly problematic today, as U.S. forces begin this summer to transfer control of insurgent-heavy regions of the country to NATO. The U.S. Institute of Peace held a recent special session of its Afghanistan Working Group dedicated to this topic, with counterinsurgency experts Seth Jones of the RAND Corporation and Colonel David Lamm of National Defense University. Beth DeGrasse, coordinator of USIP's Afghanistan Working Group
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Asia
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The June 29 parliamentary elections in Kuwait achieved international media coverage because women were allowed to stand for office and vote for the first time in the sheikhdom. Less well reported were the local political divisions that had brought about elections a year earlier than expected. The results of the balloting—in which, incidentally, none of the women candidates won office—worsened the divisions between the Kuwaiti government and the National Assembly and could lead to greater public disagreement about the character of the country's alliance with the United States.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Kuwait