Wednesday, February 23, 2011

You Say You Want a Revolution

The Muslim world (North Africa+ Middle East+Central Asia) has dominated the world politics of our generation. We have experienced, among other things, the gulf war, the war on terror (Iraq and Afghanistan), and now a period of widespread revolution. What we have seen is the worst the Muslim world has to offer, in the form of violent extremists, and the best it has to offer, in the form of people committed to improving their situation and assuring just governance--the middle part that we don't see is of course the everyday people trying to make a living just like everyone else in the world. The full effects of the recent revolutions are not yet known, but the only certainty is that the Muslim world our generation and future generations will interact with will be different from the one our parents knew.

What does it take to start a revolution?

This 60 minutes video gives a good idea of the Tunisian revolution, which sparked the ongoing "domino effect" of revolutions within the Arab world (North Africa+Middle East).

I found the part about the relative youth of the protest movement and the use of Facebook very interesting. It shows that not only is the Muslim world being redefined for our generation, it is essentially being redefined by our generation.

I know first-hand about the use of Facebook in fomenting this revolution. My girlfriend lived in Tunisia for three years, and she showed me the various pictures and messages related to the revolution from her friends who remained in Tunisia.

What happens now?

I am cautiously optimistic about the overall situation of these revolutions. I am glad that authoritarian dictators are being ousted and I am excited about the prospect of real democracy in these countries. I was quite pleased when I heard that the revolution in Egypt had successfully deposed Hosni Mubarak. Also, Turkey provides an example of a modernized, democratic nation with a predominately Muslim population; so it definitely can work.

However, revolutions tend to be unpredictable and there is always the possibility of things going too far one way or the other. For example, protests in Libya in the same vein as the Tunisian and Egyptian protests are being met with even more violent resistance from the authoritarian leader Muammar el-Qaddafi. We will see if Qaddafi concedes like Mubarak and Tunisia's Ben Ali; otherwise, the violence in the entire region might continue to escalate. Something like that might even set back the extensive progress made in the last couple of month.

I sincerely hope that these revolutions play out in the best way possible. Not necessarily the best way possible for the U.S., but the best way possible for the people of the Muslim world. Which, I think, is ultimately in America's best interest (just maybe not oil interest).

Regardless of how it all works out, we ought to be following these events. As our generation comes into its own we will be dealing with the aftermath of these revolutions, one way or another, and it would be best to do so in an informed manner. That way we'll show our peers in Egypt and Tunisia that the youth of America are just as capable of bettering our world.


Bill said...

I'm concerned that in countries that are already global pariahs like Libya and Iran, the regimes, unconstrained by the court of public opinion, will feel more entitled to crack down harder on protesters. That isn't to say that Mubarak didn't brutally try to suppress the movement, but it's possible that as a U.S. he felt pressured to not take it up a few notches.

Christian Myers said...

The lastest from Libya is that Qaddafi's control is more or less limited to the capital city, Tripoli, with rebels and Libyan army units, those that defected and joined the revolutionaries, controlling the rest of the country. Qaddafi is still fighting back and is threatening to hire soldiers from other African countries. The revolt has been violent and bloody and will continue to be, but the situation is at least leaning toward an end to Qaddafi's regime.

I think in Iran the government will either see the writing on the wall and make concessions to the people or it will violently resist as Qaddafi has done. I hope the latter does not occur because the Iranian army seems a much more loyal and powerful force than the Libyan army.

Christian Myers said...,8599,2049804,00.html

Time Magazine seems to have recognized the youtful aspect of the ongoing revolutionary movements. This article is definitely worth reading.