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Echo of Gdansk?

The Iron Curtain was lifted about 20 years ago. If you are old enough to remember it at all, do you remember how unexpected, sudden, and easy it seemed? It didn't seem real. Why hadn't the possibility of Communism suddenly unraveling been predicted by the Media, presidential candidates, foreign policy experts, or learned professors?

Things are happening fast in the greater Middle East these days. Is it crazy to expect something really big to happen, despite the rather modest events so far? Remember how the protests in the Gdansk Poland shipyard started off modestly around 1981?

I don't think anyone should get carried away and expect Islamic countries in that part of the world to suddenly become "normal." People in the West might start reading wildly hopeful reports about no-more-torture, democracy, women's rights, legalized wine in restaurants, and scientifically-designed playgrounds for children, but recall that most revolutions end up under the thumb of some faction or megalomaniac who is lurking in the wings at the beginning of the revolution. There are few powerful institutions in repressive dictatorships -- other than the Army or Islamists -- who can move into the power vacuum in the aftermath of a revolution.

When the Berlin Wall came down about 20 years ago, the most frightened group in America was the military-industrial complex. (They needn't have worried.) Ironically they should have been feeling triumphant and taking a bow.  Today the nation of Israel has the most to fear from real democracy breaking out in the Islamic greater Middle East. Also, pickup truck and RV drivers should expect more resource nationalism there.


Unknown said…
Perhaps going back even further in history there is another possible parallel. The period is the fall of the monarchies of Europe during the 19th century continuing to the Russian revolution. With that as a possible blueprint for the reshaping of the warlord/dictatorial governments in the Arab world, it will be along time. before there is noticeable change.
Wandrin', I'm not sure which monarchies you are referring to. Most didn't fall until they came out on the losing side of World War I. Maybe you are referring to the gradual transition of hard-core monarchies into constitutional monarchies in the 1800s. That WAS slow.

Say, wasn't the immediate cause of the grand-daddy of all revolutions -- the French -- a financial and food crisis?

I'm not sure how far we can get with historical analogies. There was not internet back then. And why on earth do dictators permit more-or-less free internet in their tottering fiefdoms?
Anonymous said…
We've been propping up Mubarak all this time, and what I fear is that Egyptians, Tunisians, Lebanese, Iraqi's Palestinians all have good reason to view us as being on the wrong side of history...

Just sayin...

Tom in Orlando
Unknown said…
A similar post about the activity in the Arab world:

The post takes it one step further and wonders about the imperial US government.
XXXXX said…
A really excellent book about American imperialism is "The Limits of Power:The End of American Exceptionalism" by Andrew J Bacevich.

He looks at economic, political, and military trends since WWII. I highly admire Bacevich for his dedication and perhaps his hope that this country can be saved. He was against the Iraq war and his only son died serving there yet he still goes on, speaking and writing, trying to get his message across. I don't think I could find it in me to do that. It is easy to read.