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The Arab Spring is topic of talk by former U.S. diplomat

Barry McNamara
10/31/2019
MONMOUTH, Ill. – In the early part of this decade, a series of anti-government protests, uprisings and armed rebellions spread across much of the Islamic world and came to be known as the Arab Spring.

A former member of the U.S. foreign service who’s written a highly acclaimed book on the Arab Spring will help make sense of the events from an American perspective during a Nov. 7 talk at Monmouth College.

Former U.S. diplomat Mietek Boduszyński will deliver a talk titled “How the U.S. Lost the Arab Spring” at 4 p.m. in Room 276 of the Center for Science and Business. His talk – which is sponsored by the Monmouth Center for Civic and Social Change – is free and open to the public.

Boduszyński, who is now a professor at Pomona (Calif.) College, will also participate in a Nov. 8 campus event that will include lunch with Monmouth students. He’ll offer advice on how to become a diplomat and work for the State Department.

“Mietek brings together both real-world experience in the region and a strong academic background, which is a rare combination,” said Monmouth political science professor Mike Nelson, who is a longtime friend of Boduszyński.

Nelson said the Arab Spring was “an important turning point for many parts of the Middle East and North Africa.”

“At moments, it seemed like the entire region might be on the cusp of a new transition into democracy,” he said. “Instead, the legacy has been disappointment and greater insecurity throughout the region.”

In September, Boduszyński’s latest book, U.S. Democracy Promotion in the Arab World: Beyond Interests vs. Ideals, was released. The book combines Boduszyński’s experiences on the ground as a U.S. diplomat during the Arab Spring with scores of behind-the-scenes interviews with key policy makers in Washington.

In a review, New York Times international correspondent David D. Kirkpatrick wrote: “Anyone who wants to understand the U.S. role in the unhappy outcome of the Arab uprisings must read this book. With extraordinary clarity and insight, his book cuts through all the usual clichés and hypothetical debates to address critical questions about why it all went wrong.”

In addition to witnessing the Arab Spring firsthand, Boduszyński was present in Libya when the Benghazi incident occurred and was in Iraq during the height of the battle against the Islamic State. A frequent op-ed contributor to publications such as The Hill, Foreign Affairs and The Washington Post, Boduszyński’s research also includes work on transitional justice and a book on democratization in the Balkans.