Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ingredients of a Revolution


Take decades to centuries of autocratic rule by an individual, family, political party or religious group.

Add suppression of political dissent

Mix with unemployment levels ranging from 15-70%

Turn up the heat even the slightest bit, and you have the political, social and economic circumstances that make a country ripe for revolution.

It happened in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and Libya, and led to the Arab Spring we all witnessed. Journalists have started to take note of the conditions that prime a country for revolt -- basically, when life gets cheap enough that deciding to risk or sacrifice one's life becomes a reasonable choice -- and have begun discussing which country will be next: Angola? Morocco? Jordan? Why don't the dictators ever notice (although Syria's Assad certainly seems to be aware, though he's raising rather than lowering the temperature) that they've created the elements of the perfect storm?

Meanwhile, the U.S. makes the mistake of moving in to help countries become 'democratic' when what we really need to do is let these countries overthrow their own dictators by themselves, and provide economic support for the rebuilding rather than the destruction. As Simon Winchester pointed out in Krakatoa, after the volcano destroyed much of Indonesia, it was the Muslims who came in to help the population rebuild. And what country has the largest Muslim population in the world? I'm just saying.

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