Marketing Democracy: The Political Economy of Democracy Aid in the Middle East, Erin A. Snider

Reviewed by Shamiran Mako

Scholars have long elucidated how the international environment affects democratization outcomes. Across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), democracy aid allocations have become a key US foreign policy tool for leveraging influence since the Cold War and, subsequently, post-9/11 as part of a long durée of securitizing American interests in the region. Erin Snider’s timely and much needed contribution in Marketing Democracy advances our understanding of why democracy aid programs to the region persisted as a standard practice among American policymakers despite their limited success at ushering democratization.

Focusing on what Snider calls the “micropolitics of democracy aid” (13), the book’s contribution shifts the analytical and empirical lens to highlight processes that determine the construction, definition, and allocation of democracy aid programs. These processes, Snider argues, are embedded in ideas donors hold about the strategic use and purpose of democracy aid within a given policy field. Snider’s political economy approach synthesizes ideational, interest-based, and institutional approaches to develop a framework of macro-and micro-level incentive structures that guide the “evolution, construction, and negotiation” (37) of democracy aid between donors and authoritarian recipient

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