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Is Indonesia a Model for the Arab Spring? Islam, Democracy, and Diplomacy*

  • James B. Hoesterey (a1)

As protestors filled Tahrir Square in Cairo in January 2011, Western diplomats, academics, and political pundits were searching for the best political analogy for the promise—and problems—for the Arab Uprising. Whereas neoconservative skeptics fretted that Egypt and Tunisia might go the way of post-revolutionary Iran, Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright praised Indonesia's democratization as the ideal model for the Arab Spring. During her 2009 visit to Indonesia, Clinton proclaimed: “if you want to know whether Islam, democracy, modernity, and women's rights can coexist, go to Indonesia.” Certainly Indonesia of May 1998 is not Egypt of January 2011, yet some comparisons are instructive. Still reeling from the Asian financial crisis of 1997, middle class Indonesians were fed up with corruption, cronyism, and a military that operated with impunity.

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A version of this article with a page missing appeared in Vol. 47, No. 1. A corrected version is reprinted here with a brief update by the author. RoMES regrets the error. The editor.

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Weblink, program and participants for 25-27 May 2011 workshop in Jakarta:
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Review of Middle East Studies
  • ISSN: 2151-3481
  • EISSN: 2329-3225
  • URL: /core/journals/review-of-middle-east-studies
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