Bridging Restraint and Positive Engagement

About this project

The growing effort to push the United States toward a foreign policy rooted in restraint has brought together a wide array of academics, policy analysts, human rights advocates and policymakers across the political aisle. There is broad recognition that decades of policies pursued by the U.S. in the Middle East, in many instances motivated by a desire to maintain U.S. primacy, have been counterproductive, undermining stability and U.S. strategic interests, human rights, and democratization in a region that remains overwhelmingly autocratic and militarized. Yet, for many, a more restrained U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is still too limited in scope, failing to articulate a comprehensive and positive vision for engagement that both serves U.S. interests and upholds America's legal and ethical responsibilities to the region.
To examine the merits and limitations of restraint, DAWN recently convened an expert workshop in collaboration with Yale Law School, Bridging Restraint and Positive Engagement: Toward a New Framework for U.S. Middle East Policy. Participants debated whether it would be possible to devise a new normative framework that goes beyond the strategy of restraint. Speakers proposed approaches that would ground U.S. policies in respect for human rights and align U.S. interests with more active, engaged policies that contribute to positive, democratic change while rectifying the harms to which the U.S. has contributed. 
Articles adapted from papers presented at the workshop have now been published in DAWN's journal, Democracy in Exile, along with a detailed report about the workshop.

"Many of us in the advocacy community have been on autopilot, operating on the questionable assumption that the best strategy for U.S. engagement with abusive governments is placing human rights conditions on a part of its military aid, as opposed to insisting that all such aid end."

- Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of DAWN

Help DAWN protect the lives and rights of Palestinians in Gaza.

We’re fighting for a ceasefire and accountability for Israeli and U.S. officials responsible for war crimes in Gaza.