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Capsule Review

Ruling But Not Governing: The Military and Political Development in Egypt, Algeria, and Turkey

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Ruling But Not Governing: The Military and Political Development in Egypt, Algeria, and Turkey

Ruling But Not Governing: The Military and Political Development in Egypt, Algeria, and Turkey
By Steven A. Cook
Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007 208 pp. $55.00 Purchase

Here are three Middle Eastern case studies of regimes whose roots, ideology, and modus operandi are closely tied to their respective military establishments. Egypt, Algeria, and Turkey, for all their many differences, present a striking structural similarity in one aspect of governance: the military establishment in each country ultimately controls matters without being tied down with day-to-day administration. The military is thus, in Cook's phrase, "ruling but not governing." Elections, constitutions, legislative bodies, political parties, and the media, although surely more than mere façades, are malleably subject to this overarching control. The working out of this system is demonstrated in the vacillating relations with Islamist forces, marked by co-optation into the system at times, harsh crackdowns at others. Even though Turkey offers four examples of outright military coups (the last in 1997), that country seems now best poised to break out of this authoritarian vicious cycle: it is seeking to meet the standards for membership in the European Union, and another military intervention would scotch that prospect.

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