Case 303 - When People Elect the Wrong Leaders: The United States and Elections in Algeria, 1991-1992
Fettweis, Christopher J.
The Algerian military’s decision to overthrow the 1992 parliamentary elections posed the first major challenge to President George H.W. Bush’s commitment to a post-communist “new world order” based upon consistent support for democracy, pluralism, and freedom around the world. When the coup prevented an Islamic fundamentalist party from taking office, the Bush administration had to choose whether to denounce the actions of the Algerian generals, or defend it by declaring that the fundamentalists’ victory would represent the last election Algeria was likely to have.
This two-part case study explores one of the major problems facing U.S. foreign policy: the balance between democracy, authoritarianism, and fundamentalism in the Middle East. The battle for the "hearts and minds" of Muslims everywhere centers on U.S. support for unpopular regimes—but, especially in the post-9/11 world, what democracy might bring could be worse. The study is well suited for any class in U.S. foreign policy or national security. It would also fit well into courses in comparative politics or Middle Eastern studies.