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The Difficulty of Integrating Rising Powers

Understanding the Revolutions of 2011

The wave of revolutions sweeping the Middle East bears a striking resemblance to previous political earthquakes. As in Europe in 1848, rising food prices and high unemployment have fueled popular protests from Morocco to Oman. As in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in 1989, frustration with closed and corrupt political systems has led to defections among elites and the fall of once powerful regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, and perhaps Libya. Yet 1848 and 1989 are not the right analogies for this past winter's events. The revolutions of 1848 sought to overturn traditional monarchies, and those in 1989 were aimed at toppling communist governments. The revolutions of 2011 are fighting something quite different: "sultanistic" dictatorships. Although such regimes often appear unshakable, they are actually highly vulnerable, because the very strategies they use to stay in power make them brittle, not resilient. It is no coincidence that although popular protests have shaken much of the Middle East, the only revolutions to succeed so far - those in Tunisia and Egypt - have been against modern sultans.

For a revolution to succeed, a number of factors have to come together, including the following: the government must appear so irremediably unjust or inept that it is widely viewed as a threat to the country's future.

Источник: Foreign Affairs, May/June 2011


Terrorism After the Revolutions

On December 17, a Tunisian street vendor, set himself on fire to protest police harassment. His death incited unrest throughout Tunisia; less than a month later, protests toppled the Tunisian President. Egypt, the most populous and influential country in the Arab world, soon followed suit. Al Qaeda met both these dramatic events with near silence. Only in mid-February did Osama bin Laden's Egyptian deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, officer comments. But even then, he did not directly address the revolutions or explain how jihadists should respond. Instead, he claimed that the Tunisian revolution occurred "against the agent of America and France," trying to transform Tunisians’ fight against corruption and repression into a victory for anti-Western jihadists.

U.S. politicians are moving quickly to claim the revolutions and al Qaeda's muted response as victories in the struggle against terrorism. "This revolution is a repudiation of al Qaeda," declared Senator John McCain during a visit to Cairo on February 27. And indeed, looking out from bin Laden's cave, the Arab world looks less promising than it did only a few months ago.

Nevertheless, al Qaeda and its allies could ultimately benefit from the unrest. For now, al Qaeda has greater operational freedom of action, and bin Laden and his allies will seek to exploit any further unrest in the months and years to come.

Источник: Foreign Affairs, May/June 2011


 

The Difficulty of Integrating Rising Powers

A major strategic challenge for the United States in the coming decades will be integrating emerging powers into international institutions. The dramatic growth of Brazil, China, and India is transforming the geopolitical landscape and testing the institutional foundations of the post-World War II liberal order. The Obama administration promotes developing cooperative relations with emerging powers, believing that countries with a stake in world affairs will become responsible global actors. But the United States should be under no illusions about the ease of socializing rising nations. Emerging powers may be clamoring for greater global influence, but they often oppose the political and economic ground rules of the inherited Western liberal order, seek to transform existing multilateral arrangements, and shy away from assuming significant global responsibilities.

Over the next ten years and beyond, the United States will have to accommodate new powers in reformed structures of global governance while safeguarding the Western liberal order it helped create and defend.

 




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