Monday, May 23, 2011

Arab Spring, Summer in China and Fall in Europe – Part I

Part 1 – Spring

As promised, I took a break from politics for a while, and dabbled with all things firearms and a bit of mobile application development. The later is a fascinating world that will, more than the PC, revolutionize how we do business.

But that is a story for another time. Back to politics.

I watch with fascination as many Arab ‘Ancients Regimes’ fight an existentialist battle with the forces of modernity. Their reactions, and outcome, are eminently predictable: ‘our despots’ simply couldn’t exert enough force to prevail, so they were the first to go.

‘Their despots’ on the other hand have no problem with mass killings, so they hang on.

How long they hang on remains to be seen, but their demise is inevitable. Not because of anything the US is likely to do or say, but because once educated youth reaches a certain threshold, and the economy deteriorates to another, the pot simply boils over.

So what’s next? As the west struggles with an aging population and a stagnant economy, the middle east holds vast potential for growth and vitality with a young and growing population.

Yet this potential has little chance of materializing. As we speak, dark forces are hijacking Egypt’s revolution the same way Lebanon’s Orange Revolution was preempted a few years back. People are falling back on what is comfortable, they are fracturing into smallish groups incapable of fashioning a national mandate.

Arabs are always accused of tribalism, but that is only because they do not have an trustworthy alternative. Arab “circle of trust” is relatively small, because, through experience, they’ve been conditioned that way. Years of bad government, bad economy, and terrible leadership led to deep mistrust of larger, non personal, institutions. These feeling are not only rampant, but also justified.

So what is left is tribal allegiances and zero sum game mentality that will , for the foreseeable future, slow down economic development in the middle east. And slow economic development a radical fertile grounds always make.

Progress will be made in he middle east, but that progress will be slow and uneven until the present generation of leaders passes on and a new, more educated crop takes their place.

Meanwhile, brace for more uncertainty and violence.

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