As we gear up for the long winded and jingoistic zeal of the American electoral season, there are plenty of reasons to worry that international conflict could once again break out in the Middle East. After all 2011 and long Arab Spring have revealed new fault lines throughout the Middle East, and the very fragility located at the core of the regional pax Americana established by the signing of the Camp David Accord in 1979. As Americans rejoice in the relative success of their involvement in the Libya mission, fidget nervously about the outcome of Egypt’s elongated electoral season, ignore the internal political conflicts playing out in Iraq after our withdrawal, and fret indecisively about the ongoing civil wars festering unattended in Syria and Yemen, to say nothing of the border conflict between the two Sudans, most Americans attention has shifted to the Gulf and America’s standoff with Iran over its nuclear ambitions. The ongoing reality television series that the Republican debates have become, feature nightly invocations about the existential danger that Iran poses to this nation, even as bluster over new sanctions targeting Iran’s petroleum industry and saber rattling in the Straits of Hormuz highlight the danger of war.
See an activist from within Syria and my colleague at Princeton Karam Nachar describe the state of war which exist inside of Syria today. Listen to this video and find out more about the role of international monitors, the Syrian protest movement, social media and the role of the Syrian diaspora and exile communities. Both analysts provide precious insights into which communities have moved away from the regime and which communities remain loyal.
As 2011 comes to a close it is time to reflect on the year. What have we learned about world politics and what still eludes us? Without a doubt the principle dramas of 2011 concerned revolution and political turmoil. And the unrest unfolding throughout the year has again and again caught even the most sure-footed analysts off balance. While, we all knew that the Mubarak regime had to end, who last January could predict that the regime would crumble so easily and so soon?
Why were we so often wrong and caught off guard? What about the ways in which we see the world has held true and what has been proven false? One way of getting at this problem is to refer back to the questions and assumptions we asked about the revolutions and uprisings of 2011 during the year that has just ended. We have to ask how and why we framed our discussion of the events of 2011 in the ways we did? Continue reading
What have we learned from the death of Qaddafi and the end of his 42 years in power about the international system? My answer is very little. However, this flies in the face of two popular narratives about the present. One narrative argues that we have now entered a new age of multilateral humanitarian interventions, of if you are cynical “right to protect” imperialism by the usual Western suspects. Another storyline about the Arab Revolutions is that we are witnessing a democratic shift based on a revolution in information and communication technologies that should make all dictators quake in their feet.