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Understanding Tahrir Square: What Transitions Elsewhere Can Teach Us about the Prospects for Arab Democracy [Format Kindle]

Stephen R. Grand

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Présentation de l'éditeur

Amid the current turmoil in the Middle East, Understanding Tahrir Square sounds a rare optimistic note. Surveying countries in other parts of the world during their transitions to democracy, author Stephen Grand argues that the long-term prospects in many parts of the Arab world are actually quite positive. If the current polarization and political violence in the region can be overcome, democracy will eventually take root. The key to this change will likely be ordinary citizens—foremost among them the young protestors of the Arab Spring who have filled the region's public spaces—most famously, Egypt's Tahrir Square.

The book puts the Arab Spring in comparative perspective. It reveals how globalization and other changes are upending the expectations of citizens everywhere about the relationship between citizen and state. Separate chapters examine the experiences of countries in the former Eastern bloc, in the Muslim-majority states of Asia, in Latin America, and in Sub-Saharan Africa during the recent Third Wave of democratization. What these cases show is that, at the end of the day, democracy requires democrats.

Many complex factors go into making a democracy successful, such as the caliber of its political leaders, the quality of its constitution, and the design of its political institutions. But unless there is clear public demand for new institutions to function as intended, political leaders are unlikely to abide by the limits those institutions impose. If American policymakers want to support the brave activists struggling to bring democracy to the Arab world, helping them cultivate an effective political constituency for democracy—in essence, growing the Tahrir Square base—should be the lodestar of U.S. assistance.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 1742 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 274 pages
  • Editeur : Brookings Institution Press (10 avril 2014)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Word Wise: Non activé
  • Composition améliorée: Activé
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°672.858 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)

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Amazon.com: 4.8 étoiles sur 5  4 commentaires
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Remarkable Exploration of the Space-Time Continuum 8 avril 2014
Par Nazdar - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
This book rewards readers with a rich analysis of the history of democratic transitions. With impressive research and masterful writing, Stephen Grand takes readers on a splendid journey covering Ancient Greece, the French Revolution, the “Arab Spring,” and various events in between. Supplementing this journey in time, Grand takes the reader globetrotting. Some books on democratic transitions only cover a particular country or region. Grand, however, takes the reader to Central Europe, Asia, Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East/North Africa.

The breadth of the countries covered in each region is impressive. When speaking about democratic transitions, it would have been relatively easy to just focus on South Africa. Grand, however, covers Ghana, Zambia, Uganda, and Nigeria. Grand further broadens the book's reach, covering countries as diverse as Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Slovakia, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, and Venezuela. This book culminates with policy recommendations, marked by intellectual rigor and pragmatism. After this journey through space and time, I closed the book more optimistic about the prospects for democratic reform. Kudos to Stephen Grand on a brilliant book.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A timely book for a volatile moment 18 avril 2014
Par Zack Gold - Publié sur Amazon.com
At a moment when one could be forgiven for seeing negative prospects for the emergence of democracies in the Middle East, this timely book from Steve Grand provides some optimism for a better outcome. Democratization will not be quick or easy, but Grand provides insights from Third Wave democratic transitions (from the 1970s to 1990s) to show that it is too soon to give up on the Arab Awakening, which began at the end of 2010 in Tunisia before sweeping across the region.

Unlike many Middle East experts, who overnight became democratization specialists in 2011, Grand focused on democratization throughout his career—later coming to the Middle East (and broader Islamic world) through his position at the Brookings Institution. This well-researched book invokes case studies from across the globe and provides best practices and lessons learned for both “Arab democratic activists struggling to bring democracy to their own country and for those in the West who support them” (11).

One of the key lessons is that successful democratization requires “a political constituency for democracy” (178). As Grand writes in his chapter on “The Nature of Democratic Transitions,” “Without public insistence that political leaders respect the limits on their power imposed by those institutions, the entire edifice of democracy is vulnerable” (179).

The book is not without flaws. Obsessive Egypt-watchers will notice, for example, that Grand incorrectly writes Egypt’s 2012 Constitutional Assembly was elected (186; its membership was selected by the elected parliament); but such details do not detract from placing the Arab Awakening within the context of global democratization and not as isolated uprisings in the Middle East.

In addition to democracy activists and policymakers, this short, readable book is of value to students of both the contemporary Middle East and democratization. Following current events in the Middle East can be depressing; but Grand offers perspective: “democratization was always a difficult and messy process, so it would be premature to give up on the prospects for Arab democratization just yet” (172).
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Impressive Scope Support Concrete Policy Recommendations 1 juin 2014
Par Jacob Elghanayan - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
As the other reviewers have noted, "Understanding Tahrir Square" covers a vast and diverse set of political movements in countries from all over the world. Even putting aside the common theme of democractic transitions, Grand writes in an accessible style and result is a book that is valuable even as just a survey of global events over the past fifty-plus years. For example, the section on Ukraine provides an historical context that draws out aspects of the current conflict (which did not flare up until after this book went to print) that are ignored in news articles and even think-tank analyses.

The broad scope does not prevent Grand from also delving into the interesting details of each movement. There is a particular focus on the dissident groups and their path to advocacy. For example, we learn about the Helsinki Watch citizen group and its advocacy in 1977, which later becomes the umbrella for Czech and Slovak independence groups almost a decade later.

The benefit of Grand's combination of breadth and depth is a set of concrete recommendations for the Arab Spring distilled from the democratic transitions in the latter half of the 20th century. For example, "constitution writing should ideally take place before the partisan makeup of any future government is known." This lesson is gleaned from places like Venezuela and Bolivia, where constitutional assemblies became victims to partisan politics. This type of granular analysis is needed as the Arab Spring movements continue to try to fulfill the promise of their early successes.
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Powerful Read with Policy Implications 23 avril 2014
Par Scott Sharon - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
Two thumbs up for Understanding Tahrir Square! Stephen Grand forces us to view the Arab Spring through the prism of recent democratic movements, and shows the potential for positive change. He does an excellent job of extolling the push for democracy in a region with no history of such movements, and despite warnings from other policymakers, suggests that if history is any indicator and the U.S. and Arab citizens play their parts, that democratic societies can ultimately flourish in this most volatile of neighborhoods.
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