Al-Jazeera and other satellite television stations have transformed Arab politics over the last decade. By shattering state control over information and giving a platform to long-stifled voices, these new Arab media have challenged the status quo by encouraging open debate about Iraq, Palestine, Islamism, Arab identity, and other vital political and social issues. These public arguments have redefined what it means to be Arab and reshaped the realm of political possibility. As Marc Lynch shows, the days of monolithic Arab opinion are over. How Arab governments and the United States engage this newly confident and influential public sphere will profoundly shape the future of the Arab world.
Lynch also suggests how the United States can develop and improve its engagement with the Arab public sphere. He argues that the United States should move beyond treating the Arab public sphere as either an enemy to be defeated or an object to be manipulated via public relations. Instead of wasting vast sums of money on a satellite television station nobody watches, the United States should enter the public sphere as it really exists.
Readers will also be “surprised” to learn that Lynch uses Typepad rather that Williams servers for hosting his new blog-about-the-book because of reliability problems with the latter. Subpar IT support at Williams? I am shocked, shocked!