Economics Magazine

Podcast: Understanding the Arab Spring

Posted on the 15 February 2012 by Andrewgavinmarshall @A_G_Marshall


Seeking to place the Arab Spring within a wider geopolitical and social context, this episode draws a thread through the middle of many critical interpretations of the events in the Arab world, those which view the uprisings as authentic and organic democratic revolts, and those which view them as a Western covert strategy of regime change. Instead, the truth can better be found somewhere in the middle. The aspirations and circumstances in which people of the Arab – and indeed wider – world seek and struggle for democracy are the conditions which they live and have lived under naturally breed. Thus, the conditions for democratic uprisings were present simply due to the living conditions of the population, and to the realities of the ‘global political awakening’, which reflects the fact that the majority of the world’s population is now awakened to the social depravity, economic exploitation, political repression, and general domination to which they have been subjected.

On the other hand, American imperial strategists are aware of these changes and seek to pre-empt and co-opt these aspirations to serve their own imperial interests. In this context, a 2005 Council on Foreign Relations report indicated that it was in the U.S. interest to promote democracy in the Arab world, however, the strategy would best be pursued through “evolution, not revolution,” because revolution is inherently problematic and unstable. While U.S. aid agencies and democracy promotion organizations have established contacts with Arab organizations, comparisons to the color revolutions in Eastern Europe are lacking a critical detail: the difference between popular/public opinion in Eastern Europe (which was more Western oriented in ideology and aspirations) and that of the Arab world (which is virulently anti-American), and thus, authentic democracy in the Arab world is not in the interests of the U.S. The issues are complex, the circumstances are global, regional, national and local, but for any attempt to impose a more comprehensive understanding of the Arab Spring, these issues must be remedied.

Listen to the show HERE.


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