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A Pragmatic Actor: The US Response to the Arab Uprisings


After the US had initially assessed the Arab uprisings as an opportunity and displayed a dual role understanding as an anchor of security and modest advocate of democracy, the second role understanding faded the more the US perceived the uprisings as a risk rather than an opportunity. In respect to practice, the US response did not show clear patterns in terms of goals or instruments it pursued, which would correspond to the development of these role understandings or to predefined geostrategic interests. Indeed, it seems that the US has switched from default to ad hoc modus in its foreign policy in the region which challenges both, the rational actor, as well as the normative actor model. Instead, it might be more appropriate to speak of a pragmatic actor who had to navigate through an array of constraints, including new realities in the MENA region on one hand and domestic and bureaucratic politics in the US on the other.