When protests erupted on the Iranian streets in 2009, President Obama adopted a deliberately cautious tone.
When protests erupted on the Iranian streets in 2009, President Obama adopted a deliberately cautious tone. Mindful of the fact that he was simultaneously trying to convince the regime to abandon its nuclear program—and afraid that his open support would make an indigenous revolt seem like a tool of foreign influence—the president condemned the use of violence against the Green Movement, but stopped short of backing their heartfelt calls for freedom and democracy.
Not since Saddam Hussein’s regime was demolished in 2003 has an Arab head of state run a more ruthlessly repressive terror state than Muammar Qaddafi in Libya. Tunisia’s Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak were small-government libertarians by comparison.
As House Republicans press for deeper budget cuts, one of their top targets is foreign aid. It is a tempting candidate for draconian cuts—a soft priority in today’s hard fiscal times and a budget line with no strong domestic constituency. Before Republican budget hawks wield their knife, however, they should take a lesson from their conservative cousins in the United Kingdom: When belt-tightening gets serious, foreign aid should be improved, not gutted. After coming to power last summer, British conservatives have not just talked about slashing Britain’s budget, they have delivered.
The powers that be in Israel clamped a deafening silence on themselves when the Egyptian people rose up against Hosni Mubarak. There was precious little that Israel could do to sway events in one direction or the other, since this revolution did not have its origins in issues related to the foreign, strategic, or defense policies of Cairo.
Dharamsala, India—Flying from Delhi to Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile in northern India, takes about 90 minutes. The plane lands in the valley below the Dhauladar range of the Himalayas, a massive barrier between India and Tibet. From the airport, the road leads up to the former British hill station that Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru made available in 1960 to the Dalai Lama, who had escaped from Chinese-occupied Tibet the year before.
Beyond the euphoria and uncertainties of the moment, the revolt in Egypt has sparked a debate about how much technology and information matter in a revolutionary context. Some commentators, particularly in TV coverage, have claimed that Twitter, Facebook, and blogs largely drove events in Egypt.
As protests inspired by the Egyptian uprising spread throughout the Middle East, there has been a lot of speculation about what government might fall next. Could it be Bahrain? Or Libya? Or Yemen? In fact, one of the governments that might, over the long run, be most vulnerable isn’t really on anyone’s radar at the moment.
In the brief national soul-searching that followed the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, many observers, including President Obama, reflected on the troubling excess of anger and moral indignation in our political discourse—the kind of indignation that turns opponents into enemies, and campaigns into crusades. Yet, even as responsible figures on the right and the left in America are urging their fellow-citizens (in Roger Ailes’s surprising words) to “tone it down,” the best-selling book in France is a pamphlet titled Indignez-vous!—roughly, Get Angry!
The massive protests that forced Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s departure have been widely described as a revolution. And that’s fine. If there is an Internet revolution, a Reagan revolution, and even an Obama revolution, then there has certainly been an Egyptian revolution. But there is another meaning of revolution that applies specifically to events like the French, Russian, or Chinese Revolutions. In this sense of the word, Egypt has not yet had a revolution; and the success of the protests will depend ultimately on whether it does have one.