The Arab Uprising: The Unfinished Revolutions of the New Middle East (Anglais) Broché – 24 janvier 2013
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Since this book, things have changed in Egypt. A military leader has been elected president. The people did not want disorder and apparently they did not want an Islamic government that would impose strict religiosity on them. (That does not mean that they want western style liberalism). The author praises President Obama for how he dealt with Egypt, yet now many there hate him for supporting an Islamist government.
The author is very unfair to President Bush and implies he should have done something to make things good in Iraq. Like what? The US got rid of the tyrant, supported elections, and gave money, the same as in Germany or Japan at the end of WWII. That the Iraqis could not obtain what everyone says they want is not the fault of Bush. While the author faults Bush for the war he ignores the thousands of civilians killed by drones under President Obama.
The author says that Bush strengthened al quada by fighting it, which is nonsense, but is common liberal talk. The liberal theme is that if you ignore al quada (and now ISIS), they will be rendered harmless.
The author opines that America has been too comfortable dealing with dictators. Everyone has, because dictators is all there is. America at least has tried to encourage regimes that were not as harsh as the regimes supported by other nations. Authoritarianism, yes, because there is nothing else, but not totalitarianism. Given that efforts at democracy often lead to anarchy, when the US pressures an authoritarian government to become more democratic, the result is often anarchy followed by worse tyranny.
The harshest tyrants like Ghadaffi or Assad in Syria have not been US friends but enemies. We did not support them and, in fact, there was the time when they were very popular with their populations and with the western left because of their vehement opposition to the US.
Under Obama, the US tried supporting what seemed to be the Egyptian people’s choice, and infuriated them by supporting an Islamist government. It is not so easy to know what people want. The US was in favor of the change in Libya and the moment it succeeded, the rebels filled mass graves with black Africans or forced them out the country. The violence now in Libya, the difficulty of buying food and fuel, the crime, the suffering are worse than in the time of Ghadaffi. It is not easy to predict all the effects of one’s actions.
The author stresses the praiseworthy ethnic and religious unity of Arabs, which exists despite their differences. Unfortunately, like other western liberals, the author seems to believe that Arab or Muslim identity is superior and more deserved than the identity of other groups. He believes that the US should not value its identity which, thus far anyway, is based on western culture, christianity, and judaism. The author does not mention the negative effects of identities in the Middle East, which is disdain for other groups, racism, religious bigotry. If he was writing about the west, he would point out the negative aspects. The author points out that the west does not like democracy when Islamists win. He is right. After all, Muslims would not like it if radical christians took over the US government. The US is afraid of Islamists because they are the most hostile to the west or at least they most embody the hostility. The author says that the US should make Arabs like it by supporting interests that are against US interests, which is unreasonable. No one demands that Russia or China or any nation do the same.
I do feel though that this was a book published too quickly. It would have benefited from the author permitting more time for the events to play out and for his own thoughts to form. Too often, the book is descriptive and repetitive.
There's a need for informed about analysis of the events of the Arab Spring and The Arab Uprising serves the purpose for now. However as further volumes come out benefiting from waiting for events to settle down and for their authors to more fully develop their work, I think the importance of this book will quickly decline. Until then, it's a valuable work and an ideal primer for those wishing to make sense of a fundamental shift in the Middle East
Not really impartial, but his point of view is clear and reliable.
Blind spot: Israel and the Palestinan negotiations.
All Americans must know more about the Middle East and what Arabs think and do.
There is nothing to support his premise that it's self evident that the Arabs want democracy. The US has backed away from the concept after seeing results of voting in Iran, Palestine, Egypt and Iraq, with free elections becoming a license for the majority to murder the minority.
Starting with the self immolation of a street vendor in Tunisia, where PM Ben Ali stepped down, the so called Arab Spring spread to Algeria and Morocco where it was eventually contained with monarchical survival after making concessions. Extension to Egypt resulted in overthrow of long time US ally Mubarak, who the US quickly abandoned. Bahrain and Jordan seem to have contained their rebellions. In Jordan's case with concessions and Bahrain with repressions. With a bit of irony, Lynch says the uprising in Yemen has been forgotten. After the bloody Saudi intervention we now know better. Most interesting is the account of NATO intervention in Libya with the immediate fall of Qaddafi. As we know, the bloody rebellion in Syria is still not resolved.
Starting with misguided endorsement of the Arab Spring as a democracy movement, Lynch is contemptuous of Bush policy while complementary to Obama. He doesn't notice Obama policy in Iraq following Bush to the letter while copying the surge in Afghanistan. Obama's addresses of 2009 and 2011 didn't improve the picture. Bush's premature prognosis on future al-Qaeda activity has come true for ISIS. He omits mention of Obama's near war in Syria headed off by Putin's diplomacy, which transferred credibility throughout the area from the USA to Russia. There is nothing about Barack Obama's attempt to evade ME issues with his policy of a pivot to Asia. Obama declared a minimalist policy featuring a “pivot to Asia.” Lynch credits him with farsighted policy. Apparently the book was too early to see the shift due to Russian involvement. Our president doesn't want to play second fiddle to Putin. Drone strikes are also ignored. The USA turning against erstwhile, though repressive, allies Mubarak and Assad has caused distrust among Arab leaders. Hillary Clinton's role is never mentioned, leaving her no legacy as Secretary of State.
Lynch says that the US's relationship with Israel must change with only vague suggestions on how to accomplish it. He concedes that the peace process is dead. With further respect to alliances in the area, Turkey, like Little Miss Muffet, does whatever it takes to keep her Kurds at bay. None of the alignments are pro US. Everybody despises us. Lynch says that relationship with Israel must change with some wishful thinking as to how to accomplish it along with admission that the peace process is dead. The book ends with some wishful thinking on US relationships and democracy in the ME including a forlorn suggestion for modeling of US values and institutions.
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