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Ruling But Not Governing: The Military and Political Development in Egypt, Algeria, and Turkey (Council on Foreign Relations Book) Paperback – March 13, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0801885914 ISBN-10: 0801885914
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Editorial Reviews


One of the best books of its kind that I have read in years. It is not simply about militaries, it is about how informal politics itself limits the boundaries of formal democratic institutions. Cook's command of the relevant languages and his capacity to summarize three critical Middle East cases in clear and engaging language makes this a compelling and indeed indispensable piece of work.

(Daniel Brumberg, Georgetown University, coeditor of Islam and Democracy in the Middle East)

Cook's argument is solid, coherent and well supported by the empirical data he provides.

(Omar Ashour International Affairs)

Cook has produced a sensitive, insightful analysis of the political role of the military in three Middle Eastern countries.


Cook's book makes an important contribution to the literature on persistent authoritarianism in the Middle East and North Africa.

(Stephen J. King Political Science Quarterly)

An impressive comparative study of the disputed political regimes of Algeria, Egypt, and Turkey... will likely initiate a new literature on the international and domestic efforts necessary to democratize the Middle East.

(Hüseyin Alptekin Insight Turkey)

About the Author

Steven A. Cook is a Douglas Dillon Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.


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Product Details

  • Series: Council on Foreign Relations Book
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press (March 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801885914
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801885914
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,359,537 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By L. King on November 30, 2013
Format: Paperback
Sir Humphrey: Well, it is a very sensitive part of the world. Unstable.

Prime Minister Hacker: They (the Foreign Office) are always telling me how stable it is.

Sir Humphrey: Yes, yes...indeed it is. But it is an unstable sort of stability.

--------------Yes, Prime Minister: A Victory for Democracy

What was written to explain current events becomes interesting as history. Professor Steven Cook's 2007 book draws an interesting series of political parallels between the Egyptian, Turkish and Algerian regimes. All three, he cautions, are authoritarian but not totalitarian, all are run by the military as an oligarchy, all present themselves as guardians of the peoples' freedoms and all with an active Islamist opposition in waiting. In Algeria it is the Front Islamique du Salut (FIS), in Egypt it's the Muslim Brotherhood and in Turkey it was the National Salvation Party, followed by Refah and currently the AKP.

All offer a facade of democratic freedoms however in real issues of control the cards are carefully stacked in favour of the military. What may be surprising to some is how stable the regimes have been since their initial revolutions, and this is a tribute to the skill at which the military partnered with their civilian elites have constructed a multitude of institutions to channel consent. This presents a facade of pluralism and benevolence while creating structures that largely benefit themselves in wealth, privilege and power. Moreover all made the same mistake of encouraging an Islamic opposition with the assumption that it would be both apolitical and a a counter to the appeal of communism and the left.
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Ruling But Not Governing: The Military and Political Development in Egypt, Algeria, and Turkey (Council on Foreign Relations Book)
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