Sure, you"re voting, but someone has to do the thinking! And thus, the latest on foreign political movements, African grain markets, Hispanic migration and democratic foreign policy.
- Progressive Islamism? [PDF] In a new Carnegie Endowment paper, Omayma Abdel-Latif dispels the claim that women"s increased social and political activism in the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood should be regarded as a "rebellion of the Sisters" that threatens the movement. To the contrary, the author writes, such activity is a natural product of a generational shift within the Islamist movement, which began in Egypt in 1928 with the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood. It"s ideology has since spread throughout predominantly Muslim countries in forms ranging from Palestinian Hamas to Egypt"s non-violent Muslim Brotherhood, and even to Turkey"s ruling Islamist party. Consequently, Islamism has embraced democratic rhetoric and argued that democracy is compatible with Shari"a. The Egyptian women now vying for more political participation within the Brotherhood are explicitly testing the extent of this compatibility. According to Abdel-Latif, it is a welcome and progressive phenomenon. -- SW
- Can You Hear Me Now? A fellow at the Center for Global Development wrote a working paper last week that assessed how mobile phone introduction has affected the performance of the grain market in Niger, one of the world"s poorest countries. The new-found ability to communicate over long distances was a boon to grain market traders over both the short- and long-term, as cell phones led to reduced search costs, more market information, and increased efficiency in moving goods across the country. Information technology, it appears, can be used as an effective poverty-reduction strategy in low-income countries. --DH
- Watch out, Lou Dobbs! The Center for Immigration Studies titled a report this month, "Surge Two: Northward Flood of Mexicans Likely to Increase after U.S. Election." The author, George Grayson, claims that Mexico"s heightened violence and potential to become a failed state will embolden "t-shirt wearing, backpack-carrying Mexicans seeking to escape mushrooming insecurity at home." Rising push factors from Mexico -- high murder and kidnapping rates, widespread disenchantment with national institutions, and near impossible police reform -- will overpower waning pull factors from the U.S. -- the financial crisis, or as Grayson calls it, "The September Time of Troubles." He argues that the next president will be too distracted with other domestic issues to attend immigration reform, while Mexico will be too in-the-hole to keep its citizens home. -- CP
- Democracies, in a league of their own. Disillusionment with the Bush doctrine has prompted an ongoing debate about the importance and potential hubris of democracy promotion, and the Brookings Institution weighs in. Their report argues that democracies should band together in promotion of their values, but regime change and security cooperation should not be the central purpose of this community. Instead, their focus should reflect a concern for the agency of all nations by renouncing forceful regime change, taking a "do no harm" approach and allowing locals to guide reform and national agendas. A shift from negative program of threats and sanctions would be highly effective: Aiming for multilateral options as much as possible, using incentives and rewards, and prioritizing human rights as the cornerstone for the construction of democracy -- essentially, the inverse of the last eight years. -- ZA