What happens when democracy produces “bad” outcomes? Is democracy good because of its outcomes or despite them? This “democratic dilemma” is one of the most persistent, vexing problems for America abroad, particularly in the Middle East — we want democracy in theory but not necessarily in practice. In his new book, “The Problem of Democracy: America, the Middle East, and the Rise of Fall of an Idea,” Shadi Hamid explores these questions and more.
On October 17, 2022, the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings hosted a virtual panel event to launch Hamid’s new book and discuss potential resolutions to democratic dilemmas and implications for U.S. policy. Hamid was joined in conversation by Francis Fukuyama and Amaney Jamal to discuss potential resolutions to democratic dilemmas and implications for U.S. policy. Hamid proposed what he calls “democratic minimalism”—decoupling democracy and liberalism when the two are in tension. In this way, U.S. policy could prioritize democracy as an end in itself, instead of as a means to other goals.
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