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Links: US-Arab World

Links: US-Arab World

Among all the articles about the Middle East over the past two weeks, these three jumped out at me as being highly relevant for U.S. global engagement strategy.

1. Amid Arab protests, U.S. influence has waned by Liz Sly in the Washington Post.   The old ways won’t work anymore and if the U.S. seeks to re-establish a position of influence in the region it will have to use new tools and approaches.

That Egyptians are now at the head of the region’s long-suppressed demand for democratization comes in spite of, not because of, the United States, Khouri said.  “Nobody’s listening to America anymore,” he said. “It’s become irrelevant.”

2.  Let’s Try This Again by James Traub in Foreign Policy.  This excellent piece is about U.S. democracy promotion in the region, offering a balanced assessment of what has worked, what hasn’t and what to do next.

Democratization, in short, meant “reform”: a process pushed from below but ultimately granted from above. And because Arab autocrats understood perfectly well that real reform would lead inevitably to demands for wholesale change they could not survive, they had learned how to open the valves just enough to let frustrated citizens blow off steam and then return to their lives of benumbed acceptance. It appeared to be a highly sustainable system.

3.  How to achieve real reform in the Arab world by Marwan Muasher in the Washington Post.

Today, lip service to reform will not be enough. Arabs no longer trust in their governments’ abilities to deliver better management of political and economic matters. Action must be taken to appease an increasingly skeptical public. Arab governments should start by start by acknowledging reality and putting their countries on a track of political reform.



James Ketterer

James Ketterer is Dean of International Studies at Bard College and Director of the Bard Globalization and International Affairs program. He previously served as Egypt Country Director for AMIDEAST, based in Cairo and before that as Vice Chancellor for Policy & Planning and Deputy Provost at the State University of New York (SUNY). In 2007-2008 he served on the staff of the Governor’s Commission on Higher Education. He previously served as Director of the SUNY Center for International Development.

Ketterer has extensive experience in technical assistance for democratization projects, international education, legislative development, elections, and policy analysis – with a focus on Africa and the Middle East. He has won and overseen projects funded by USAID, the Department for International Development (UK), the World Bank and the US State Department. He served on the National Security Council staff at the White House, as a policy analyst at the New York State Senate, a project officer with the Center for Legislative Development at the University at Albany, and as an international election specialist for the United Nations, the African-American Institute, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He is currently a Fellow at the Foreign Policy Association and has also held teaching positions in international politics at the New School for Social Research, Bard College, State University of New York at New Paltz, the University at Albany, Russell Sage College, and the College of Saint Rose.

Ketterer has lectured and written extensively on various issues for publications including the Washington Post, Middle East Report, the Washington Times, the Albany Times Union, and the Journal of Legislative Studies. He was a Boren National Security Educational Program Fellow at Johns Hopkins University and in Morocco, an International Graduate Rotary Scholar at the Bourguiba School of Languages in Tunisia, and studied Arabic at the King Fahd Advanced School of Translation in Morocco. He received his education at Johns Hopkins University, New York University and Fordham University.

Areas of focus: Public Diplomacy; Middle East; Africa; US Foreign Policy

Contributor to: Global Engagement