The Candidates on Democracy Promotion in the Arab World
The cascade of protest movements that began in Tunisia and swept across the Middle East in 2011 has prompted tough questions for the presidential candidates as they consider the political fallout and plot U.S. engagement. Washington has long faced a tenuous balancing act in the region, weighing the interests of U.S. national security with the promotion of democratic values and human rights. Analysts say these tensions are likely to persist, if not grow, in the wake of the Arab Spring.
Despite divisions over particulars, Mitt Romney and President Obama have shared some broad policy responses to the historic upheavals transforming the region. Both men supported the U.S. intervention in Libya, though they differed on timing and mission execution. And both men support working with regional allies to isolate the Assad regime and support the Syrian opposition. A point of distinction, however, may be the weight each candidate gives to U.S. relations with Israel in considering their policies in the Arab world.