News

    Task Force: US Support for Arab Reform Critical to Winning War on Terror

    A report from a task force sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations says U.S. support for democratic reform in the Arab world is critical to winning the war on terrorism and repairing America's image in the Middle East. 

    The task force report says the Middle East will be a central focus of U.S. foreign policy for the next generation and beyond, and that Washington has the opportunity to help shape a more democratic region.

    A co-chair of the task force, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, says the group generally supports the Bush administration's efforts to persuade Arab governments to accept democratic reforms.

    "Support for democracy is an important tool in counter-terrorism and working in that particular way," she said.  "We also believe that the best stability is actually democratic stability.  Finally, support for democracy, we believe, will help restore America's credibility in the Middle East region." 

    The task force says the United States should promote the development of democratic institutions over the long term, and that democracy cannot be imposed from the outside.

    Task force members say America's goal in the Middle East should be to encourage democratic evolution, not revolution.

    Task force co-chair Vin Webber, a former congressman who is now chairman of the National Endowment for Democracy, says promoting political, economic and social change in the Arab world requires a country-by-country strategy. 

    "Because of the skepticism that people in the region justifiably have toward our motivations, and certainly even more so toward their own governments' willingness to reform, we need to make very concrete the direction that individual countries are taking," said Mr. Webber.  "While we understand that this should not be a straight-jacketed [inflexible] approach, a uniform approach, or what you might call a cookie-cutter approach, every country in the Middle East is different.  We believe that the United States should work with the governments in the region for each country to establish its own, as we would call it, a pathway to reform."

    The task force found that Islamic movements and political parties are likely to play a prominent role in a more democratic Middle East.

    Former Secretary of State Albright says Washington should support the political participation of any group or party that abides by the rules and norms of the democratic process.

    "We do not think that the United States should deal with groups that are on the terrorist list, but we also think it is very important for us to recognize that peaceful Islamic groups are very much part of the process," she added.  "Policy-makers have to recognize, in any case, that armed organizations, such as Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah, are already participants in the democratic activities of their societies." 

    The task force also recommends that the U.S. government restore funds for the Voice of America's Arabic service, saying it should emphasize reform issues, in addition to providing news and information.

    VOA's Arabic service was replaced several years ago by Radio Sawa, which uses a mix of popular music and regular news bulletins to target younger Arabs.

    The report says the VOA Arabic service traditionally broadcast to a wider-range audience, including elites, and should become an integral component of Washington's public diplomacy strategy.

    Task force members also say the United States should expand trade relations, military ties, and diplomatic support with Arab countries demonstrating democratic progress.

    They say Washington should take steps to distance itself from governments that refuse, over time, to recognize the political rights of their citizens.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.