My colleague Steven A. Cook joined me to discuss his latest book, False Dawn: Protest, Democracy, and Violence in the New Middle East, and U.S. policy in the Middle East and North Africa. Cook is the Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies here at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of two other excellent books, The Struggle for Egypt: From Nasser to Tahrir Square and Ruling But Not Governing: The Military and Political Development in Egypt, Algeria, and Turkey.
Cook spoke about his experience in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on the night of January 25, 2011, and Washington’s ensuring wishful thinking about democratization across the region. We discuss the difficulties in predicting uprisings like those of 2011, and Cook sheds light on how foreign policy officials use—or fail to use—outside expertise to question their assumptions. He also shares his predictions for stability in the Middle East and North Africa over the next five years and some helpful advice for young scholars.