Moving Beyond Rhetoric: How Should President Obama Change U.S. Policy in the Middle East?
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As President Obama now embarks on his second term, it’s important to examine what concrete changes to U.S. policy are needed to fulfill the promise of his rhetoric. To this end, we at the Project on Middle East Democracy have asked fifteen leading foreign policy voices to address the following question:
- Take Bold Steps. Avoid the timidity, caution, and “tinkering around the margins” that have thus far characterized the U.S. response to dramatic and historic changes. Take assertive steps to help influence the outcomes of transitions at this critical moment.
- Engage More Broadly. Reverse the longstanding tendency of relying primarily on narrow, government-to-government relationships. Strengthen relationships with a diverse set of actors across the region—not just the new faces in power.
- Use Leverage and Incentives. Demonstrate a willingness to use leverage and offer concrete incentives to positively influence the actions of key actors in the region, including U.S. allies. Don’t just declare a desire or an expectation that governments will take constructive steps—clearly identify rewards and consequences to encourage such actions.
Other valuable advice contained within these responses includes the need for the administration to, on one hand, become more agile and better able to respond quickly to the rapid changes of a dynamic region, while on the other hand, demonstrate patience and not sacrifice long-term progress for the sake of short-term expediency.
Within this publication, all of the responses are presented in full. Each of the individual responses articulates these themes more fully and makes further specific recommendations. As the U.S. administration transitions and prepares for President Obama’s second term, we believe that this collection contains valuable input and suggestions that could help the policies of the President’s second term live up to the rhetoric of his first.