Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"There Is No Arab Spring"

Given my own lack of expertise in the foreign policy, I pay especially close attention to those who have made it their life’s work

In my view George Friedman of Stratfor most often provides cogent, sound, and objective analysis of important foreign policy issues. If you only have time to read one Friedman, choose George. Even if you have time to read two Friedmans, you would do well to resist temptation and stick with George.

Today, Friedman reports on the policy issues at play in the so-called Arab Spring.

He explains: “There is no Arab Spring, just some demonstrations accompanied by slaughter and extraordinarily vacuous observers. While the pressures are rising, the demonstrations and risings have so far largely failed, from Egypt, where Hosni Mubarak was replaced by a junta, to Bahrain, where Saudi Arabia by invitation led a contingent of forces to occupy the country, to Syria, where Bashar al Assad continues to slaughter his enemies just like his father did.”

And he offers a cogent explanation of the Obama administration’s foreign policy gambit: “If Obama is right that there is a democratic movement in the Muslim world large enough to seize power and create U.S.-friendly regimes, then he has made a wise choice. If he is wrong and the Arab Spring was simply unrest leading nowhere, then he risks the coalition he has by alienating regimes in places like Bahrain or Saudi Arabia without gaining either democracy or friends.”

As of today, the latter looks far more likely than the former.


Deadman said...

One simple way to foster real democratic governments in the Muslim world would be to promote a system whereby parliamentary representatives are determined by random selection not election—similar to the procedures of the originators of democratic government, the ancient Athenians.
One advantage of selecting representatives by lot is that, generally, the parliaments will be far more truly representative of the composition of society: if 1% of the population were lawyers, then about 1% of parliamentarians would be lawyers, not 50%; but the chief advantage of selecting representatives by lot, for the Islamic world, is that the method would be so clearly a genuine way of procuring divine blessing for, assuredly, supposedly random events are not actually random but occur only by the sanction of the merciful Allah.
My support for regular random—or, for Muslims, divine—selection of candidates, instead of periodic elections, is based on the assumption that government would be more democratic if people had a continual involvement in legislative and administrative matters, and withal a far better chance of directly participating therein, rather than merely having a say in the constitution of assemblies every four years or so.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

This is a terrific idea. It's an interesting way of avoiding the faults that lie in the notion of career legislators. And also of rule by lawyers. It would work against factional and tribal voting patterns.

As you know, the American government did not start as a fully democratic system, but as a representative republic.

Clearly enough, if everyone votes in these countries the winners are going to be the best organized groups, and that often means the Islamists.

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