Western powers have looked on with both hope and anxiety at the events unfolding in the Middle East. While the emergence of pro-democracy forces provide a cause for optimism, we’ve also seen unending bloodshed in Syria and the increasingly likely prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran. All the while, Western powers have struggled to decide just how much they should get behind pro-democracy forces, and how to do so most effectively.
“The message they want to bring to you is that the democracy movement feels abandoned. Not just over the last few years, but the last decade. In the Arab world, there’s almost an implosion of civil society.”
The US Congressional Delegation fielded questions from reporters, opining on topics ranging from the escalating crisis in Gaza and the bloodshed in Syria to climate change. Senator John McCain called on President Obama to institute a no-fly zone over Syria to help oust Bashar al-Assad that Senator Mark Udall said deserved serious consideration.
Over the last decade Western countries have begun worrying and in some cases panicking about the rapid ascent of China as a world power. Are we truly on the verge of a radical shift in the power of balance, or do we need to re-evaluate the assumptions underlying that argument? Whatever the answer, it is worth examining how exactly China will exercise its growing power through cyber warfare, traditional military strength, and growing economic influence. In other words, what exactly does China want?
Recent events in the Middle East and Africa have given a new urgency to the age-old question: What responsibility do democratic nations have to promote democracy and prevent bloodshed around the world? How will the rise of democracies like Brazil, Turkey and India change this conversation? Policymakers and journalists convened in this panel to cast new light on these questions and discuss how effective international institutions can be in resolving such conflicts.
“We can’t right every wrong, or put out every fire. But where we can, we should. Because it’s in our interest to see countries develop, to have a chance at democracy and freedom and all the things we’ve stood for in our country for over 200 years.”
“From the point of Israel, the goals of this campaign have been accomplished. But Israel can’t stop if the other side doesn’t stop. We have the building blocks for stopping it. The two most important actors, Israel and Hamas, in my opinion, are interested in a ceasefire….but there is no dialogue between these two parties….this fact actually causes any ceasefire to be very fragile.”
“Why is it taking place? In my opinion it’s face-saving for Netanyahu, who banged the drums of war against Iran and it didn’t work. This is a war by proxy against Iran. It is an egotistic issue for Netanyahu.”
America remains the post powerful military and diplomatic power in the world. Yet questions remain about the role the country can (and wants to) play in the coming years. How will the economic crisis affect Americas global impact? After a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, how much political will remains in the United States to shoulder a global peacekeeping burden? Leading policymakers from the trans-Atlantic community and Middle East discussed possible answers to these questions in the context of the recent Presidential election.
“The no-fly zone proposal is worthy of some deep and thoughtful consideration. The longer this conflict continues, the more dangerous it is for the region.”
The recent discovery of new energy sources in North America and elsewhere could re-define the debate about energy independence. Traditionally oil-rich countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia could find themselves with significantly less economic and geopolitical leverage. Yet the prospect of true energy independence for the Western world also raises new questions about global interconnectedness and engagement: would the West be tempted to turn inwards and become more isolationist?