Of Empires and Citizens: Pro-American Democracy or No Democracy at All?by Amaney A. Jamal
In the post-Cold War era, why has democratization been slow to arrive in the Arab world? This book argues that to understand support for the authoritarian status quo in parts of this region--and the willingness of its citizens to compromise on core democratic principles--one must factor in how a strong U.S. presence and popular anti-Americanism weakens democratic
In the post-Cold War era, why has democratization been slow to arrive in the Arab world? This book argues that to understand support for the authoritarian status quo in parts of this region--and the willingness of its citizens to compromise on core democratic principles--one must factor in how a strong U.S. presence and popular anti-Americanism weakens democratic voices. Examining such countries as Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Palestine, and Saudi Arabia, Amaney Jamal explores how Arab citizens decide whether to back existing regimes, regime transitions, and democratization projects, and how the global position of Arab states shapes people's attitudes toward their governments.
While the Cold War's end reduced superpower hegemony in much of the developing world, the Arab region witnessed an increased security and economic dependence on the United States. As a result, the preferences of the United States matter greatly to middle-class Arab citizens, not just the elite, and citizens will restrain their pursuit of democratization, rationalizing their backing for the status quo because of U.S. geostrategic priorities. Demonstrating how the preferences of an international patron serve as a constraint or an opportunity to push for democracy, Jamal questions bottom-up approaches to democratization, which assume that states are autonomous units in the world order. Jamal contends that even now, with the overthrow of some autocratic Arab regimes, the future course of Arab democratization will be influenced by the perception of American reactions. Concurrently, the United States must address the troubling sources of the region's rising anti-Americanism.
"Contrasting the prospects for democratization in Jordan and Kuwait, Jamal argues that Jordanians prefer a stable monarchy to a democracy dominated by anti-American Islamists because they fear that the US would punish Jordan economically if Islamists won elections. . . . [Of Empires and Citizens] makes a nice addition to the comparative politics literature by emphasizing how geostrategic relations shape state-society negotiations over political change. . . . [R]eaders will gain many insights about Jordanian and Kuwaiti political beliefs from the public opinion surveys and interviews from 2005 to 2007 that the author interprets."Choice
"The book reflects a huge academic effort, a 'massive data collection effort in three countries' of Jordan, Morocco and Kuwait. The effort is reflected by the thorough presentation of evidence."James Denselow, Huffington Post
"The book has a readable style that is not over-burdened with technical jargon. Challenging traditional culturalist and structuralist explanations for the lack of democracy in the Middle East, it uses core-periphery theory an as explanatory framework for authoritarian resilience."Alexander P. Martin, New Middle Eastern Studies
"The book reflects a huge academic effort, a 'massive data collection effort in three countries', Jordan, Morocco and Kuwait. The effort is reflected by the thorough presentation of evidence: the work includes detailed foot- and endnotes, chapter appendices complete with snippets of the author's methodology, questionnaires and further hypotheses. . . . Through this evidence-based look into the relationships between client and patron and between state and society, Jamal explores a simple idea, demonstrated well."James Denselow, International Affairs
- Princeton University Press
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Meet the Author
Amaney A. Jamal is associate professor of politics at Princeton University and the author of Barriers to Democracy (Princeton).
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