Following the 11 September terrorist attacks, a belief has emerged that one of the root causes of Islamic extremism lies in the repressive nature of the regimes that populate the Middle East. Thus the spread of democracy has become a major component of the Bush administration's 'war on terror' Previously dismissed as Wilsonian idealism, the promotion of democracy is now considered a strategic necessity to address the threat posed by terrorism. Despite the significant role democracy promotion has played in the present foreign policy of the United States, the focus has tended to be on the more controversial policies of preventive warfare and coalitions of the willing. The purpose of this article is to help rectify this imbalance by examining the role the promotion of democracy plays within the current administration's foreign policy in the Middle East. It considers the logic behind America's 'forward strategy of freedom' in the Middle East as well as the likelihood of this strategy succeeding.
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