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  • Author: Stephen Zunes
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: President George Bush gave his 2007 State of the Union address on January 23. While the speech covered many domestic issues, Bush also laid out his foreign policy approach to Iraq, Iran, terrorism, and democracy promotion. Excerpts from the president's speech are in italics; my comments follow.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Stephen Zunes
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: The ongoing popular challenge to the pro-Western Lebanese government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora marks yet another setback in the Bush administration's attempt to impose a new order on the Middle East more compatible with perceived U.S. strategic interests. The success of the nonviolent people power movement against Syria's overbearing role in Lebanese politics during the spring of 2005dubbed the Cedar Revolutionwas an impressive triumph of popular democratic forces, forcing the withdrawal of Syrian forces and enabling the country to proceed with parliamentary elections without Syrian interference. However, despite claims by the Bush administration to the contrary, the electionswhich, like all Lebanese elections, took place under the country's colonially-imposed confessional representation systemdid not constitute a victory for reformers. Instead, the victors were primarily a group of corrupt pro-Western elite politicians from the same traditional political families who have ruled the country since independence. Their credibility among the Lebanese people was reduced further this summer when the United States rejected their pleas to use its considerable influence to stop Israel's brutal 35-day military assault against their country which took the lives of more than 1,000 civilians and caused billions of dollars of damage to the country's civilian infrastructure.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Stephen Zunes
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: The election of the hard-line Teheran mayor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, over former President Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani as the new head of Iran is undeniably a setback for those hoping to advance greater social and political freedom in that country. It should not necessarily be seen as a turn to the right by the Iranian electorate, however. The 70-year old Rafsanjani — a cleric and penultimate wheeler-dealer from the political establishment — was portrayed as the more moderate conservative. The fact that he had become a millionaire while in government was apparently seen as less important than his modest reform agenda. By contrast, the young Teheran mayor focused on the plight of the poor and cleaning up corruption.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Roger Howard
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: Imagine your reaction if, during last November's presidential contest, the mullahs of Iran had suddenly launched a tirade of criticism against the American system of democracy and beamed their message onto our television sets and radios for all of us to hear: democracy in the United States, the mullahs might perhaps have claimed, is a corrupt process that is determined largely by the influence of the wealthiest donors, and a process that wholly fails to address the religious needs of a secular, materialist culture.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Iran, Middle East