Friday, July 04, 2014

July 4 and the Arab Spring

Egypt's military are back in charge.  Syria's civil war has killed about 150,000 and displaced millions.  The Arab Spring's spirit of democracy looks like a failure. 
Richard Youngs writes

Politics in the Middle East are increasingly polarized and fragmented. The Arab Spring’s citizen-led spirit of reform is still alive, but societies are increasingly torn apart by bitter tensions between Sunni and Shia, secular liberals and Islamists, and governments and civil society.

On this Fourth of July, we can recall some context from our own revolution and  remember that it took another 11 years and a revolutionary war from the
  • July 4, 1776 signing of the Declaration of Independence to 
  • September 17, 1887 signing of the Constitution on   and two more years until the 
  • June 21, 1888 ratification (nine states were needed for ratification) 
It's also important to remember that the American colonies were just one part of the vast British empire and that the colonists fought rulers who were based across the Atlantic ocean.  It could take weeks to cross the Atlantic.  (Here's an interesting piece of Ben Franklin's writings on the Gulf Stream and how shippers could speed up their voyages.) 

The American revolt was a major blow to the British prestige, but it wasn't a fundamental challenge to the existence of the British monarchy and power structure.  The middle eastern protests were attempts to overthrow the existing power structures of their countries. 

And in 1812, the British were back and burned Washington DC.

The US democracy wasn't settled in a few years.  Reading history books, knowing 'the ending,' things always look much more stable and inevitable than they do as they are happening. 

There was still a civil war that would challenge the viability of the US.

And I put 'the end' in quotes, because 'the end' tends to mean 'today.'  But today we are in a major culture clash with some seriously challenging the United States from within.  The end is well into the future.

The Richard Youngs quote above isn't actually complete.  He goes on to try to reframe the Arab spring.  
As polarization has deepened, the concern with engaging in dialogue to bridge differences has intensified. The relationship between these mediation efforts and support for systemic reform will be a pivotal factor in the Middle East’s future political trajectory.
 This quote could apply equally to the United States today.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.