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Europe's Uncertain Pursuit of Middle East Reform

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Abstract:

Deliberation of democracy promotion in the Middle East intensified after the attacks of 9/11, and has been further energized by the transatlantic debates that were progeny of the Iraqi conflict. More intense debate over support for political change in the Middle East has forced the U.S. and Europe into a closer exploration of each other's actual and intended approaches to democracy promotion in the region.

In this sixth Carnegie Paper framing key issues relating to democracy promotion in the Middle East, this essay outlines the way in which the EU introduced a limited and selective Middle Eastern democracy policy in the 1990s; catalogs some of the new initiatives introduced by both European governments and the EU collectively since the terrorist attacks of 9/11; identifies the distinctive conceptual features of Europe's approach to political reform; and suggests ways in which EU strategy in the Middle East should be strengthened.

The paper contends that Europe's determination to reinforce a distinctiveness from the U.S. has been a source of strength, but also an obstacle to tempering persistent insufficiencies in EU strategy. While enjoying both quantitative and qualitative advantages relative to U.S. efforts, European democracy policies in the Middle East require significant revision if they are to attain the sophisticated holistic gradualism to which they aspire.