...Then as if we haven’t learned, up pops Hillary Clinton – first of all calling for reform in the Arab world, then for “stability” in Egypt – stability being universal code-word from Beijing to Brazzaville for dictatorship – and then suddenly when the mob gets heavy the dictators are supposed to open up Facebook again.
It is all very reminiscent of – well, of the 1980s...There was one important factor which made those transitions easier than they might have been, however, and very successful in the cases of some, such as South Korea and Taiwan. That was the leadership of charismatic but, importantly, broad-minded leaders who while demanding change understood key concepts, such as babies and bathwater...That brings us, of course, to Nelson Mandela, currently ailing in South Africa. South Africa is no South Korea, it is true, but as we all know the worst fears of western pessimists of a bloody revenge for the horrors of apartheid were averted, in part due to the magnanimity of men like him...
and then it gets worse:
...The fragmentation and conflicts of the Arab world have buried such figures of authority and prestige under a welter of conspiracy theory, obscurantism and dogma. [and why is that? is it intrinsic to the political culture? to the nature of Islam?] There are plenty of ordinary people who – as sensible people across the world do – feel ambiguous about America, loving its openness and prosperity, fearing its heedlessness to the families who are on the receiving end of its foreign policy blunders...
A bit of light in his tunnel, though:
I have yet to hear anyone blaming Israel for this week’s uprising. But no doubt someone is somewhere.
And his vision?
What is needed, instead, is someone to lay out a vision of the new Egypt, the new Tunisia, the new Libya, Saudi and Yemen...where’s the Arab Mandela when you need him?
Well, we all have then a long wait.