International Relations Paper

Question

Authoritarianism in the Middle East

Many policymakers believe that the spread of democracy in the Middle East will increase peace and stability in the region. Given what we have read this week about the causes, and persistence, of authoritarianism in the region, what policies would you suggest to these policymakers in order to reduce the “democracy deficit” in the region?

Answer

Authoritarianism in the Middle East

            The issue of authoritarianism in the Middle East is an impediment to democratization. This problem is primarily because of the “democracy deficit’’ created is a result of political and economic dynamics (Bellin 139). Contrary to popular claims, there is no conclusive evidence that points to culture as the most crucial hindrance to the region’s transition to democracy (Bellin 139). Rather, empirical research suggests that there is nothing intrinsically anti-democratic about the Middle Eastern cultures (Bellin 145). On the contrary, authoritarianism remains persistent in the Middle East because of the existence of hostile political and economic conditions that are a hindrance to the democratization process.

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            To reduce this wave of authoritarianism, policymakers ought to design and structure policies aimed at maintaining stability not only at the national but also local-community level. This way, stability will ultimately spread into many areas, thereby impacting positively on political, economic and social realm of all countries in this region (Robinson 623). Secondly, a strategy aimed at replacing the authoritarian governments with elite-based democracies should be initiated. The viability of this suggestion arises from the fact that democracy stems from a scenario where the society is autonomous from the state (Rustow 337). Elite-based governments are characterized by a situation where a small faction rules over political matters and where society’s involvement in decision-making is limited to the choices made during general elections in regards to leadership. As such, such democracies can succeed in preventing the status quo from remaining unchallenged whilst ensuring that there is a balance of power at all times by advocating for more consensual methods of governance (Rustow 346). Additionally, this approach ensure that citizens in the affected countries within this region are at liberty to exercise their democratic rights by voting in leaders of their own choice as opposed to contending with self-imposed leadership.

Works Cited

Bellin, Eva. “The Robustness of Authoritarianism in the Middle East: Exceptionalism in Comparative Perspective.” Comparative politics (2004): 139-157.

Robinson, William I. “Globalization, the World System, and “Democracy Promotion” in US Foreign Policy.” Theory and Society 25.5 (1996): 615-665.

Rustow, Dankwart A. “Transitions to Democracy: Toward a Dynamic Model. “Comparative Politics 2.3 (1970): 337-363.

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