On October 23, 2017, former White House Advisor on U.S. Middle East Policy under President George W. Bush, Elliott Abrams, spoke at Georgetown University about American foreign policy in the Middle East in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. The speech centered around Abrams’ new book, “Realism and Democracy: American Foreign Policy after the Arab Spring,” and was part of the Center for Jewish Civilization’s inaugural Andrew H. Siegal Memorial Lectureship series. SOFREP guest reporter Cheyenne Martin was there, and filed this report.
Elliot Abrams is a cautious optimist when it comes to the Middle East. Mr. Abrams opened his speech at Georgetown by explaining that he wrote his latest book because he noticed that many Americans were pessimistic about the outcome of the Arab Spring and its impact on governance in the Middle East. In Abrams’ words, many Americans think, “well, there was this Arab Spring, right? Optimistic, but it’s over. It failed, except in Tunisia. Let’s get over it; let’s be realistic. It is not going to happen.”
Abrams’ views this outlook as an unrealistic assessment of the impact of the Arab Spring, and cautions against giving up on promoting democracy in the region.
Mr. Abrams stated that the central problem with the Arab Spring was that it failed to fundamentally transform the whole Middle East. From the American perspective, he went on, when those in the United States think of the Middle East, they worry most about terrorism and Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. In Abrams’ view, Americans believe that the United States must make allies “where we can find them.”