PLAN: DEMOCRACY IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Background, Activities and Critical Analysis
By Greg Timmons, teacher and Executive Director of The Constitution Project in
Social Studies, International Studies, Geography
Time: 3 class
that President Bush's foreign policy to promote democracy is a departure from
the Cold War policy of containment, and examine the reasons this policy has been
proposed at this time.
recent Middle East events showcasing citizens practicing democracy in elections
and public demonstrations and analyze the extent of democracy in these areas.
where democracy does exist in the Middle East and evaluate the extent of political
rights citizens of individual countries experience.
diverse views of the prospects for democracy in the Middle East and draw conclusions
as to its relationship with the president's foreign policy of spreading freedom
around the world.
In this lesson students will examine the prospects for democracy
in the Middle East. Beginning with an analysis of President Bush's inaugural speech
and its call for promoting democracy throughout the world, students will examine
key portions of the speech and assess the policy promoted. Then students will
examine some recent events that have brought some foreign policy experts to believe
an expansion of democracy in the Middle East is occurring. Students will also
explore where democracy exists now in the Middle East by comparing the countries'
political profile against the U.S. State Department's "Pillars of Democracy"
criteria. Finally, students will examine three diverse views on the prospects
for democracy in the Middle East, compare these views with the theme of President
Bush's second inaugural address and make recommendations on what U.S. foreign
policy should be.
The Middle East has had contact with Europe and the West for centuries. While
much of this contact revolved around trade, it wasn't always a harmonious relationship.
The European Crusades of the 12th through 14th centuries saw Europeans and Muslims
waging war on each other in epic battles over territory and conquest. After World
War I, with the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, the Middle East fell into the hands
of the European victors. National borders, originally based on ethnic and political
boundaries were re-arranged to suit the Europeans economic and political needs
for the 20th Century.
discovery of oil deposits in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq led to a quasi-colonialism
that saw much economic activity but not much political reform. The old ruling
families of the Arabian Peninsula were given authority by the Europeans to "keep
things in order." Sometimes this worked and other times new leaders emerged
who were opposed to western nations' wishes.
establishment of the Jewish state in Israel brought a democratic government to
the region, and strong political and cultural resentment by many Muslims in the
emergence of the Cold War created a paradoxical dance with Muslim governments
being both friend and foe to U.S. and European policies adding another complex
dimension to international relations in the region. During this time democratic
government became established in only a few countries like Israel and later Turkey.
Democracy found difficulty establishing itself in Lebanon and only took on vague
characterizations in Egypt and Morocco. In fact, it was never an official political
priority by any of the countries in the Middle East or the West until most recently.
A sequence of events in the early months of 2005, beginning with elections in
Iraq and Palestine and open and successful political protest in Lebanon against
Syrian influence, led many to believe a new chapter was being written in the Middle
East. President George Bush, in his 2nd inaugural address, introduced a new role
for the United States in fostering global democracy, with its beginnings in the
help us make these lesson plans better
to National Standards
here for Lesson Procedures
1. Have students research any of the events briefly described
in PART II. They should find at least three sources from news media that describe
the event and provide analysis. Students will then write a paper that summarizes
the event and to what extent they feel democracy has occurred.
Set up a debate between students or have them write op-ed pieces that express
their views on the benefits and drawbacks of President Bush's promotion of freedom
as stated in his second inaugural address.
Have students work in small groups to brainstorm their views on democracy in the
United States. What characterizes the U.S. as a democratic state? Then have them
work in small teams or independently to compare and contrast this with what they
have learned about democracy in the Middle East. Students should be sure to include
differences in the history and culture of the two areas and refer to sources that
discuss this topic at length. Have students construct their ideas in an essay
that they can submit to the Newshour Extra's Web site to firstname.lastname@example.org
for possible publication.
National Council for the Social Studies Thematic Standards
Time, Continuity, Change
Apply key concepts such as time, chronology, causality,
change, conflict and complexity to explain, analyze and show connections among
patterns of historical change and continuity.
VI Power, Authority and Governance
the ways nations and organizations respond to forces of unity and diversity affecting
order and security.
Explain how governments attempt to achieve their stated
ideals at home and abroad.
Civics - Standard 27
Benchmark 7: Understands the idea of
the national interest and how it is used as a criterion for shaping American foreign
Enterprise Institute http://www.aei.org
Fact Book http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/
NPR Special Series on the Middle East http://www.npr.org/news/specials/mideast/the_west/
Newshour Background Reports on the Middle East http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/middle_east/middle_east.html
White House http://www.whitehouse.gov
About the Author: Greg Timmons is a teacher, curriculum writer and Executive
Director of The Constitution Project in Portland, Oregon. He has taught middle
school and secondary Social Studies for over 30 years, written lessons, and directed
institutes on U.S. Constitution related issues. He is a member of the Board of
Directors of the Oregon Council for the Social Studies.
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