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
Sep 22, 2014
President Barack Obama gestures during a statement in the State Dining Room of the White House, on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, in Washington. Obama spoke after Congress voted to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels in the fight against the Islamic State group. (AP/Evan Vucci)

A tough, critical examination of US plans to take on ISIS. Strategy in the hot seat.

Sep 22, 2014
Demonstrators make their way down Sixth Avenue in New York during the People's Climate March Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014. (AP/Jason DeCrow)

Big climate protests in New York before a big UN summit. Activist and author Naomi Klein says change the economy or die. She’s with us.

RECENT
SHOWS
Sep 19, 2014
Joseph O'Neill (courtesy of the author)

Author of “Netherland,” novelist Joseph O’Neill is back, with “The Dog,” on globalization, capitalism, and self-discovery in Dubai.

 
Sep 19, 2014
No campaigners celebrate as results come in at the Scottish independence referendum count at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh,Scotland,Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Scottish voters have rejected independence and decided that Scotland will remain part of the United Kingdom. The result announced early Friday was the one favored by Britain's political leaders, who had campaigned hard in recent weeks to convince Scottish voters to stay. It dashed many Scots' hopes of breaking free and building their own nation. (AP Photo/David Cheskin)

ISIS and arming Syrian fighters. Scotland rejects independence. NFL turmoil. US troops and Ebola. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: September 19, 2014
Friday, Sep 19, 2014

Lots of big, contentious topics on the show this week — from Zionism to early education, corporal punishment to development in the Grand Canyon.

More »
Comment
 
Talking Through The Issue Of Corporal Punishment For Kids
Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014

On Point dove into the debate over corporal punishment on Wednesday — as Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson faces charges in Texas after he allegedly hit his four-year-old son with a switch.

More »
2 Comments
 
Our Week In The Web: September 12, 2014
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

In which you had varied reactions to the prospect of a robotic spouse.

More »
Comment