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Ruling But Not Governing

, 208 pages
March 2007



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Ruling But Not Governing

The Military and Political Development in Egypt, Algeria, and Turkey

Ruling But Not Governing highlights the critical role that the military plays in the stability of the Egyptian, Algerian, and, until recently, Turkish political systems. This in-depth study demonstrates that while the soldiers and materiel of Middle Eastern militaries form the obvious outer perimeter of regime protection, it is actually the less apparent, multilayered institutional legacies of military domination that play the decisive role in regime maintenance.

Steven A. Cook uncovers the complex and nuanced character of the military’s interest in maintaining a facade of democracy. He explores how an authoritarian elite hijack seemingly democratic practices such as elections, multiparty politics, and a relatively freer press as part of a strategy to ensure the durability of authoritarian systems.

Using Turkey’s recent reforms as a point of departure, the study also explores ways external political actors can improve the likelihood of political change in Egypt and Algeria. Ruling But Not Governing provides valuable insight into the political dynamics that perpetuate authoritarian regimes and offers novel ways to promote democratic change.

Steven A. Cook is a Douglas Dillon Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

"One of the best books of its kind that I have read in years. It is not simply about militaries, it is about how informal politics itself limits the boundaries of formal democratic institutions. Cook's command of the relevant languages and his capacity to summarize three critical Middle East cases in clear and engaging language makes this a compelling and indeed indispensable piece of work."

"Cook's argument is solid, coherent and well supported by the empirical data he provides."

"Cook has produced a sensitive, insightful analysis of the political role of the military in three Middle Eastern countries."

"Cook's book makes an important contribution to the literature on persistent authoritarianism in the Middle East and North Africa."

"An impressive comparative study of the disputed political regimes of Algeria, Egypt, and Turkey... will likely initiate a new literature on the international and domestic efforts necessary to democratize the Middle East."

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