Middle East Notes and Comment: Anti-American Democrats
April 15, 2005
If the United States is for democracy around the globe, does it follow that democrats around the globe will be for the United States? The brief and not very surprising answer is “no.” What is surprising, however, is just how much anti-Americanism lurks in the Arab pro-democracy groups that have received such glowing coverage in the United States in recent months. The growing consensus among scholars and policymakers is that representative democracies are more stable than even pro-U.S. authoritarian systems and ultimately better serve U.S. interests in the region. While that may be true in some cases, democratization will likely strenthen forces that are hostile to the U.S.
The anti-Americanism of many pro-democracy movements in the region is long standing. Arabs complain that their governments serve at the pleasure of the U.S. government, not Arab citizens. They see a half century of the United States protecting governments from accountability rather than calling for it, and they anticipate that the region’s authoritarian regimes will crumble without support from Washington.