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Victoria Collins & Dawn Rothe

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United States Support for Global Social Justice? Foreign Intervention and Realpolitik in Egypt’s Arab Spring

On rare occasions, and under certain conditions, segments of the population respond to the repressive and violent conditions imposed on them by a state’s leader by seeking social justice in a variety of ways—from broad social movements to revolutions. The “Arab Spring” that began in December 2010 is an example of such uprisings. The authors suggest that political factors, in particular the need of states to maintain legitimacy and pursue their interests, affect the framing, labeling, and repression of those involved in ending state violence. In this context, the reaction of foreign states to social unrest is more often than not predicated on their geopolitical interests than on their stated support for social justice, democracy, humanitarian concerns, or human rights. By drawing on theories of power, discourse, and legitimacy, the authors analyze the contradictory responses of the United States to the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt.

Keywords: Realpolitik, Arab Spring, uprisings, state crime, Obama administration

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