The National Security and Defense Policy of the United States primarily revolves around the cooperation between the allied countries globally and the efforts to promote democracy in regions with other political regimes. This issue is particularly relevant in the Middle East, where countries such as Syria, Iraq, and South Sudan have contradicting perspectives on politics, democratic values, and equality standards compared to America. Nevertheless, the Democratic Peace Theory (DPT) proposes that increasing the influence of democracy in other countries will help to maintain world peace. Hence, the current essay argues that the United States should continue promoting democratic values in the Middle East to form a closer relationship between the countries and mitigate organized crime and terrorism.
Democracy promotion to minimize illegal activity is a noble objective; however, the situation in the Middle East has been obstructed by multiple challenges over the last thirty years. For instance, the evident difference in political regimes and equality standards has caused U.S. foreign policy to fail in the Middle East (Gause, 2019). People in the Arab World have difficulties understanding democratic values and might frequently perceive the U.S. intervention as a hostile invasion (Gause, 2019). Unfortunately, some of America’s actions, such as the Invasion of Iraq, confirm this position, but the ultimate goal of the Defense Policy in the Middle East is to strengthen the relationship between the countries. Some countries, including Tunisia and Egypt, have seen a positive change after the Arab Spring in 2010-2011 and a shift toward more democratic regimes (Robinson & Merrow, 2020). Other regions, including Iraq, Syria, and Libya, have more powerful authoritarian governments, making democracy promotion more challenging.
Democracy Promotion in the Middle East
As seen from the background information, there are numerous challenges to democracy promotion in the Middle East. Hence, to achieve this objective, the United States needs to continue its foreign policy according to the DPT but make better efforts to promote stability. Namely, various humanitarian aid programs, such as the Middle East Regional Partnership Initiative (MEPI) and Middle East Regional (MER), have helped maintain relative peace in the region (Sharp et al., 2020). These endeavors effectively promote democracy in the Middle East since most of them directly support equality, women’s empowerment, and quality of life improvements (Sharp et al., 2020). As a result, they enhance the relationship between the Middle East and the United States, mitigating regional conflicts and global risks.
Moreover, according to the National Security and Defense Policy, the United States will have fewer external threats if the Middle East successfully adopts democratic values. Since 2001, the government and many Americans have perceived the Middle East as the center of world terrorism (Ashford, 2018). It is crucial to dissolve misconceptions that Americans and people from the Middle East have about each other to develop a long-lasting peace between the regions. Ultimately, if the United States does succeed in promoting democracy in the Middle East, the country will have fewer external threats to its national defense.
The other argument for continuing democracy promotion is the effect of the Arab Spring on Tunisia – the only country with lasting democratic progress in the Middle East. According to the latest statistics, internet freedom and women’s empowerment have significantly improved in Tunisia over the last ten years (Robinson & Merrow, 2020). Despite being surrounded by countries with authoritarian political regimes, Tunisia has made notable progress and mitigated regional conflicts and civil wars (Robinson & Merrow, 2020). This development conveys hope for a more peaceful future in the Middle East, where people have protected human rights and are not forced into wars.
Lastly, it is crucial to address the counterargument that America’s actions only hinder the quality of life in the Middle East to support the paper’s thesis. Namely, various experts have criticized the United States for being overly aggressive in the region and emphasized its military failures, such as the Iraq Invasion (Ashford, 2018). During American military presence in the Middle East, residents’ favorability ratings have decreased from approximately 50% to 10% (Ashford, 2018). Nevertheless, the previous mistakes do not make the overall objective less desirable or practical. Democracy promotion is an effective solution to mitigate organized crime, corruption, and terrorism, which are crucial factors that might significantly improve the quality of life in the Middle East (Sharp et al., 2020). Ultimately, it is essential that the United States acknowledges its prior military mistakes in the Middle East and focuses its efforts on building a long-lasting positive relationship with the region according to the Democratic Peace Theory.
Promoting democracy in countries with authoritarian regimes is one of the primary objectives of the National Security and Defense Policy and the DPT. Not all efforts in the Middle East have been effective in achieving this goal, but, subjectively, the ultimate objective should remain the same. The analysis has shown that promoting democracy leads to a significant positive change in equality, women’s empowerment, and press freedom, which are substantial factors in mitigating violence. Hence, the United States should continue its efforts according to the Democratic Peace Theory to create a favorable long-lasting relationship with the Middle East and prevent external threats.
Ashford, E. (2018). Unbalanced: rethinking America’s commitment to the Middle East. Strategic Studies Quarterly, 12(1), 127-148.
Gause, F. G. (2019). Should we stay or should we go? The United States and the Middle East. Survival, 61(5), 7-24.
Robinson, K., & Merrow, W. (2020). The Arab Spring at ten years: What’s the legacy of the uprisings? Council on Foreign Relations.
Sharp, J. M., Humud, C. E., & Collins, S. R. (2020). U.S. foreign assistance to the Middle East: Historical background, recent trends, and the FY2021 request. Congressional Research Service.