01 Feb 2011

History of Democratic Uprisings Show MORE Stability and Prosperity

David Brooks hits the nail on the head in a piece in the New York Times from yesterday. He goes directly for the root arguments for those who are claiming that we shouldn’t support the uprising in these three points:

First, the foreign policy realists who say they tolerate authoritarian government for the sake of stability are ill informed. Autocracies are more fragile than any other form of government, by far.

Second, those who say that speeches by outsiders have no influence on places like Egypt have it backward. The climate of opinion is the very basis of the revolt.

Third, for all the pessimism and nervousness that accompanies change, most countries that have experienced uprisings end up better off. We can all think of exceptions, like Iran, but we should greet these events with eagerness and hope.

Using their logic, the Velvet and Orange revolutions were dangerous… while history just hasn’t born that out. Using their logic, we should sit back and not take sides, even though we claim to be a beacon of freedom for the world. Using their logic, we should have sided with Musharraf over the lawyers who rose up after he fired the chief justice of their supreme court.

Their logic is garbage.

Read more at the New York Times »

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

0 thoughts on “History of Democratic Uprisings Show MORE Stability and Prosperity”

  1. I’m not going to enter a quantitative discussion of how often this or that, and I’m enthusiastic about Egyptian protests and prospects, but here are some other democratic-tending revolutions that did not turn out well (in addition to Iran’s):  France after 1789, Russia 1917 (March democrats then November Bolsheviks), Afghanistan kicking out the Russians 1989 and subsequent civil war which the Taliban mostly won by 1996.
    Regime change is inherently unstable and dangerous, a high risks for high rewards moment.  It’s important to keep this in mind.
    (It’s a major reason the US backed off from Iraq in 1991, because we did not have a plan B for post-Saddam Iraq while the Iranians were ready to set up an Iran-leaning govt in Baghdad.)

  2. I agree with where Jeff is going. Revolutions are a crap shoot almost every time. David Brooks’ optimism is as far misplaced as the pessimism he is trying to offset.
    From Brooks’ own article, of the more than 100 nation that have experienced democratic uprisings, just 62 have become democracies, loosely defined. Since we’re dealing with such specifics as “more than” and loose definitions, I’d venture that Egyptians have a 50/50 chance of attaining a representative government.
    Furthermore, Brooks’ absolutely ignores the unique challenge that democracy faces in that region of the world: namely an opportunistic brand of religious fanaticism that will grab power whenever and however it can. The success rate of that particular movement is plenty fuel for pessimism on the part of liberty in this particular case.
    No, I don’t believe Brooks’ hit the nail on the head. In fact, I think the facts he brings to the table land the hammer squarely on his thumb. Somehow, he hasn’t noticed the pinch, yet.

  3. I agree with the comments above. While I am hopeful that Egypt is able to make a peaceful transition to a more democratic government, I’m pretty agnostic on the idea that the US should interject itself forcefully.
     
    The quicker and more fluid the situation becomes, the more I worry that unscrupulous opportunists will gain a foothold. As Jeff says, this is a high risks for high rewards moment. High losses could also ensue.
     
    So I am satisfied that our diplomatic involvement has been careful and circumspect, at least publicly. Once the military declined to interject itself forcefully on behalf of Mubarrak, it was clear he was on his way out. I hope that a way can be engineered that removes Mubarrak in as timely a fashion as possible without tossing Egypt into a dangerous power void from which other reprehensible leadership emerges.

  4. Well it’s all to the good if Egyptians turn some of their attention to what should come next. Simply deposing Mubarak creates a vacuum for opportunists.
     
    Based solely on the nature of their populace, Egyptians don’t seem that prone to opting for conservative lslam, speaking comparatively. But then we probably thought Iran was pretty westernized back in 1979, and look how that fell out.
     
    My hope is that if Mubarak becomes totally untenable even over his newly announced short term, that the military can step in in a way that preserves civil order and provides a path towards a new government that has broad support and enacts specific reforms which the people want.

Leave a Reply