In this research seminar Dr Jeremy Pressman discussed America's approach to the Arab uprisings.
The United States has taken a cautious approach to the Arab uprisings. Most Obama administration decisions are what one would have expected given longstanding US tendencies regarding alliances and stability. In particular, the United States government has called for regime change and democratisation with adversaries (e.g. Libya, Syria) but been reticent to do so with allies (e.g. Bahrain, Egypt). Despite pressure from elements in the US Congress and punditry for more aggressive policies, Obama officials have neither pushed a broad freedom agenda nor endorsed US-led military intervention other than in Libya (at least thus far). The only exceptions are the tentative dealings with Islamists political actors. All these US decisions are taking place against a crucial reality that is often ignored: these uprisings are driven in the particular countries, not in Washington. The United States did not start the process and does not and cannot control it.