by HOLLY NELSON
During Kristen Chick's 7 p.m. presentation on democracy promotion in the Middle East on Wednesday, Nov. 17, Chick discussed many topics that opened my eyes a little to the life of a foreign correspondant, but mostly the many complicated complexities that must be considered when dealing with international relations in non-democratic countries such as in the middle east.
While this presentation was not solely about Chick's experience as a foreign corespondant, it was interesting to hear about where she is located and to what areas she travels within Egypt and Lebanon. Also, I found it very intriguing how much Chick knew about Egyptian law, political figures, and Egyptian culture. She is definitely an expert on Egypt and American action in Egypt.
The topic of her presentation was American democratic promotion specifically in Egypt, since she is based in Cairo. Currently, an authoritarian regime is in control of the country, with opposition from the Muslim Brotherhood.
Apparently, the current Egyptian authoritarian regime is following a policy of pressuring the U.S. to keep out of its business or they will turn the country over to the Muslim Brotherhood, a radical opposition group. The regime has gone as far as to allow a certain number of political seats to go to Brotherhood members in order to act as a threat to the U.S. that the possibility of a turnover of power to the Brotherhood is significant if the U.S. pushes the regime out of the country.
Also, Chick discussed the consequences of the Obama administration pressuring non-democratic countries to adopt democratic ideals. While she agreed that democracy promotion can be a good thing, she said that it can also lead to: a decrease in U.S. support in international relations (for example, Egypt could end stop having positive relations with Israel for U.S. sake), an end of shared intel with the U.S., and they might even go as far as to not support the war in the Middle East.
A good example of a bad consequence due to American democratic promotion is what happened in Turkey. Now, turkey's policies have diverged from U.S. policy, thanks to American pressure for an adoption of democratic ideals.
However, many Egyptians desire more American interaction because they are hoping for a more democratic Egypt. In fact, many Egyptians fear the police due to the fact that they have actually begun torturing and even murdering Egyptians. Chick, who is fluent in Arabic, said that she had spoken to many Egyptians miss Bush's administration since he was more persistent in pressuring Egypt to adopt democratic ideals. While they were very excited for Obama's potential, so far they have been very disappointed with what he has done to help them.
Currently, the Egyptian president is allegedly very sick and therefore the country is preparing for a possible transition in power. Therefore, the U.S. is very aware of the sensitive situation they have at hand and that democratic promotion must be handled very carefully as to not push the country in the wrong direction of American policies.