The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

American attitudes to democratization

According to a poll, many Americans believe their country should not encourage democratization in the Middle East. The poll, by the Knowledge Networks for the Program on International Policy Attitudes and the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, has the following answers when asked "Do you think the US should or should not put greater pressure on countries in the Middle East like Saudi Arabia and Egypt to become more democratic?

Should not51%43%62%45%
No answer11%6%6%26%

Here is the link to the full survey [PDF], which includes some specific questions on Egypt and other interesting stuff.

I'm not sure how to interpret this and whether there's been a big change on this question in the last few years, but I do find it surprising that the "should nots" are that high with both parties when this was meant to define the second Bush term and most American opinion-makers have been harping on and on about since 9/11. I'm sure for the Democrats the answer will be partly motivated opposition to the administration in general, but I do wonder where this might mean that the mess in Iraq may have dampened American appetites for democracy-building in the medium term. If so, Bush and his team may have set back American "Wilsonians" for years because they embraced the idea of democratization but implemented it badly. The next US president, whether Republican or Democrat, could make moving away from democratization rhetoric one of their first foreign policy priorities, if only for domestic reasons.

Anyone better informed than I am on US politics has any thoughts on this?