RSC Reading Room

RSC Reading Room

The RSC “Reading Room” contains a regularly updated electronic library of reports, documents and other research resources. The RSC collects and compiles this set of electronic material and research resources in order to provide access to a wider body of work for researchers and analysts. Most notably, the RSC “Reading Room” is a key element of our efforts in the areas of public education and research and analysis, as we construct and expand a virtual “knowledge base” of resources covering a wide range of topical issues and geographical areas, many of which are neither widely known nor available in Armenia or the South Caucasus region.

Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI)
IAI Working Papers 1301
Cecilia Emma Sottilotta
January 2013

Summary: History abounds with instances in which Western countries have pursued policies supporting authoritarian regimes, while lukewarmly investing in democracy promotion. The EU and US attitudes vis-à-vis the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region has followed this pattern. By looking at political discourse and practice, this paper explores the conceptual loopholes into which Western policymakers have often fallen when choosing stability over democracy in the southern Mediterranean region. This paper focuses on US and EU attitudes towards MENA countries before and after the start of the Arab Spring with the goal of reappraising mainstream approaches to political stability amongst both governmental and non-governmental actors.

Political Stability in Authoritarian Regimes

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The Wilson Quarterly
Larry Diamond
Winter 2013

Summary: One after another, arguments that non-Western countries are not “ready” for democracy have been upended by experience. When Arab societies rose up and toppled four dictators during 2011—in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and Libya—people around the world joined in the celebration. Yet soon after the autocrats’ fall, a wave of apprehension washed over many in the policy and intellectual elite in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East itself. The warnings and reservations were variations on a theme: Arabs are not ready for democracy. They have no experience with it and don’t know how to make it work. Islam is inclined toward violence, intolerance, and authoritarian values. People will vote radical and Islamist parties into power, and the regimes that ultimately emerge will be theocracies or autocracies, not democracies.

Why Wait for Democracy?

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Congressional Research Service (CRS)
US Library of Congress
By Jim Zanotti

8 January 2013

Summary: Close U.S.-Israel relations drive congressional interest in upcoming elections for Israel’s 120-seat Knesset (parliament), scheduled for January 22, 2013. Israeli leadership decisions may have profound implications for matters of high U.S. priority, including potential threats from Iran and its non-state allies (such as Hezbollah and Hamas), issues of ongoing Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and political change in neighboring Arab states. The composition of a probable new coalition and government led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu could significantly influence Israeli decision-making, politics, and relations with the outside world, including the United States. In turn, this could affect U.S. popularity, credibility, and ultimately—national security vis-à-vis the Middle East and more broadly.

“Israel: 2013 Election Preview”

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Dr. Daniel Kliman & Richard Fontaine 

Summary: The rise of four powerful democracies – Brazil, India, Indonesia and Turkey – presents one of the most significant opportunities for U.S. foreign policy in the early 21st century. Daniel M. Kliman of the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) and Richard Fontaine of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) urge American leaders to pursue closer partnerships with these four countries, which they term “global swing states.” In Global Swing States: Brazil, India, Indonesia, Turkey and the Future of International Order, published as part of a joint initiative of GMF and CNAS, Kliman and Fontaine offer a new framework for thinking about how U.S. engagement with these pivotal powers can bolster peace, prosperity and freedom.

“Global Swing States: Brazil, India, Indonesia, Turkey and the Future of International Order”

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Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI)
IAI Working Papers 1226
Camilla Committeri
October 2012

Summary: The Syrian crisis has divided the international community like no other Arab uprising has done so far. While the United States and the European Union stand squarely against the Syrian regime, Russia remains a staunch defender of state sovereignty and the Assad regime. There are three main factors that explain this position: Moscow’s historical relations with Damascus; Russia’s traditional opposition to US presence in the Middle East; and the sur ge in domestic opposition in Russia itself. This last factor, and the recent evolution of Russian domestic politics, is crucial to grasp Moscow’s foreign policy towards Syria and the Middle East, as well as towards the United States and Europe.

When Domestic Factors Prevail upon Foreign Ambitions: Russia’s Strategic Game in Syria

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