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Degrading democracy: Iraq, empire, and struggles for freedom in the Arab Islamic world

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The Bush administration's rhetoric of remaking the Middle East along democratic lines to justify American imperial assertions in Iraq and elsewhere has inevitably degraded the democratic idea. It has also stimulated luxuriant commentary on the relationship of Islam and democracy that only deepens western hostility to Islam with a repackaging of tired Orientalist notions of Islamic exceptionalism and self-inflicted wounds. The American empire requires the notion that democracy cannot come to the Islamic world from internal cultural resources. The imperial project and its justificatory War on Terror highlights Islamic extremists, while screening from view the democratic struggles of mainstream currents, including Islamists. The prospects for democracy around the world today would be so much stronger if the biggest, richest democracy in the world engaged more assiduously its own battles for democracy at home and did less damage to the struggles for freedom in the Islamic world and elsewhere.
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Keywords: Iraq; Islam and democracy; Wassatteyya; democracy; democratization policy; western/American imperialism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Carnegie Scholar 200608, Trinity, College and the American University in Cairo.

Publication date: 2007-10-19

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  • The International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies is a new peer-reviewed, tri- annual, academic publication devoted to the study of modern Iraq. In recognition of Iraq's increasingly important position on the world stage, the time is right for a new journal dedicated to scholarly engagement with the country.
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