90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Islamic Democracy
photo

For six decades, American policy in the Middle East was pretty clear: go with the strongmen and never mind the democratic niceties. Stability was what mattered.

Four years ago, George W. Bush declared an end to all that. Stability cannot be bought at the expense of liberty, he declared. The USA, he said, would now line up with democracy.

But the angry, Islamic democracy that has surged in Bush’s time is not what the president had in mind. Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood — these have the political popularity. Washington calls them extremists, terrorists. So, what now?

This hour On Point: Islamic democracy, and America’s hard choices in the Middle East.

Quotes from the Show:

“We’ve had a series of setbacks for democracy across the Middle East, particularly in countries which are our longtime and continued allies such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.” Ken Silverstein

“In this part of the world we frequently ask if the Islamic world is ready for democracy, and there’s this suggestion that they’re not just quite mature enough or ready for it when in fact we might be asking is whether the West is ready for Islamic democracy because for more than the past decade, there’s been a real flowering of Islamic political parties across the Middle East.” Ken Silverstein

“We need to distinguish between Al Qaeda and organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas who have a stake in the system. Right now we don’t make that distinction.” Ken Silverstein

“There is a very traditional Islamic opposition in Egypt. It’s generations old. It represents a very significant constituency inside Egypt. I think what is remarkable is that maybe over the past few years in Cairo and the rest of the country is that you’re starting to see cooperation between that Islamic opposition and the more secular opposition. That’s a new development.” Anthony Shadid

“I think it’s pretty clear there is deep disenchantment with US policy at this point, not only in Egypt but Lebanon as well and elsewhere in the Middle East. We’re dealing with a Middle East today that’s very unsettled. It’s a bleak moment in the Middle East right now and … there’s deep disillusionment out there about what United States had promised and now what it’s trying to promote in the name of stability.” Anthony Shadid

“It’s difficult to see how you’re going to lead to real democratic reform and real democratic change in these countries … without some kind of engagement with Islamic movements since they represent such large constituencies but at this point you don’t see any real signal from the Americans that they’re willing to engage or have a desire to engage them. ”

“Egyptians are very contemptuous of their own regime. They would like to have a freer political system, there’s no question about that. By the same token, I think that if the Egyptians had the opportunity to vote freely, they wouldn’t necessarily vote for the Muslim Brotherhood. One of the problems is that the regime’s policy has made this group basically the only show in town.” Augustus Richard Norton

“Many Lebanese would agree probably the only real political party in Lebanon [is Hezbollah]. What’s happened is that you’ve had a migration of support among Lebanese Muslims, particularly the Shiaa Muslims, in the direction of supporting Hezbollah. … They see this organization as a means by which they can basically play a better hand in politics.” Augustus Richard Norton

Guests:

Ken Silverstein, Washington editor of Harper’s Magazine

Augustus Richard Norton, professor of international relations at Boston University, and author of the new book “Hezbollah: A Short History”

Anthony Shadid, correspondent for the Washington Post

Gidi Grinstein , former peace negotiator and president of The Re’ut Institute

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Nov 21, 2014
President Barack Obama announces executive actions on immigration during a nationally televised address from the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014.  (AP)

The president throws down the gauntlet on immigration. Bloodshed and new tensions in Israel. Keystone fails. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Nov 21, 2014
Laura Ingalls Wilder, an American  writer and novelist, at age 27. Her "Little House" series is a beloved semi-autobiographical take on her childhood in the Western American plains. (South Dakota State Historical Society )

A big new look at the legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the woman behind the Little House.

RECENT
SHOWS
Nov 21, 2014
Laura Ingalls Wilder, an American  writer and novelist, at age 27. Her "Little House" series is a beloved semi-autobiographical take on her childhood in the Western American plains. (South Dakota State Historical Society )

A big new look at the legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the woman behind the Little House.

 
Nov 21, 2014
President Barack Obama announces executive actions on immigration during a nationally televised address from the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014.  (AP)

The president throws down the gauntlet on immigration. Bloodshed and new tensions in Israel. Keystone fails. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
The Explicast, Episode Six: What Does A White House Press Correspondent Do?
Friday, Nov 21, 2014

We turn to White House Press Correspondents all the time for news, but we’ve never really wondered how they gather their information. Fortunately, our guest host Jessica Yellin had time to sit down with The Explicast to explain.

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: November 21, 2014
Friday, Nov 21, 2014

We offer a panel of hand-drawn digital sheep, and wonder how to best lead the rest of you to programs that matter.

More »
2 Comments
 
The Explicast, Episode Five: What Is Net Neutrality?
Friday, Nov 14, 2014

The Explicast dives into tech policy territory with a quick look at the real meaning of a complicated bit of tech policy known as ‘Net Neutrality.’

More »
2 Comments