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History in the making right now in the Middle East

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John Karr (Karr) | 8 comments Just saying ... history in the making. Who knows how it will turn out, at this point.


Manuel | 1439 comments No doubt about it. It will be interesting how the US will be perceived after all the smoke clears.

Who would have thought at the start of the year that only two month into 2011 there would have been a HUGE seismic shift in the Middle East.

I think it is very exciting to witness.


Marian (gramma) | 98 comments Which direction will it shift to? It won't be democracy - it could be Sharia (sp?) Will we be able to negotiate with them? about the price of oil & who they prefer to sell it to?

The "Domino effect" that they were always worrying about in Asia could well happen in the middle East.

Will Libya's leader in his desperation reach for nuclear weapons? Or will his army's officer corps be able to prevent this? He is already leaving a path of destruction. Will he be another Sampson and bring everything down along with himself?

What about Israel and the U.S. If the dominoes fall to close, will nuclear be the last best defense?

Stay tuned for tomorrow's exciting episode of "Days of the Middle east's young and restless population".


message 4: by Manuel (last edited Feb 26, 2011 01:13PM) (new)

Manuel | 1439 comments Fortunately Libya's program for developing weapons of mass destruction never really took off. So no danger of nuclear weapons in this case, but am sure Gaddhafi would have no qualms about using them if he had them.



It feels as if we are reliving 1989 except its the Middle East instead of Eastern Europe that is convulsing in change. I find it strange that anti American sentiment hasn't been nearly as pronounced as it was during the Iranian revolution of 1979; nor has the call for Islamic fundamentalism. The goals of all 3 revolutions have been for basic human freedoms: they all keep using the word "democracy" as their purpose.

I look forward to see what Iran will make of this.
Initially the Iranians took credit for the reform movements sweeping their neighbors, but as far as I can see, no country has been advocating an Iranian style theocracy. I wonder what will happen when the reform movement in Iran sees what their neighbors have managed to do? I suspect things in Iran will be much much more brutal than anything we have seen in Libya.


Count Jared | 39 comments Why not a theocratic democracy or republic? It seems we're conflating a system of law (sharia) with a system of government, which it is not. The Qur'an doesn't specify how the government must be composed, just that the people must submit to the righteous successor (caliph.) And even there, almost immediately there was a civil war over who was the truly righteous successor, leading to the martyrdom (as the Shi'a see it) of Ali, the son-in-law of the prophet.

I'm honestly not sure what to expect in Tunisia or Libya, but in Egypt it seems likely to me that we'll see a British-style Parliamentary democracy; it's what most of their mandarins are educated to administrate, regardless of the military junta they've been working under for 50 years or so. What does seem likely to me, is that Algeria will reform a French-style democracy, which after all, is why they fought a ten-year rebellion against France, and now probably a two- or three-year rebellion against France's successors. That's not to say that any of the North African states won't apply some mix of secular and religious law, though in Egypt's case it seems more doubtful than likely to me.

Very exciting times.


Matt | 6 comments What I find to be compelling about these movements is the question of "could it happen in Saudi Arabia?". And to extend that notion further, would the West allow it to happen...

Saudi Arabia is ruled by a very oppressive government. Their citizens (their empowered citizens...) benefit from oil wealth and can be placated with the fruits of oil wealth. But if there was civil unrest in Saudi that resulted in the disruption of oil flow, would the West let it happen? Would Western Governments intervene or even condemn harsh suppression of civil demonstration? Saudi pumps a lot of oil and if the tap were shut off, even by a little, it would disrupt oil flows world wide, and have potentially disastrous effects on recovering, but still-weak western economies.

I'm not commenting on the merit or lack of merit of our dependence upon oil, but rather the reality and consequence of our dependence upon it.


Count Jared | 39 comments [W]ould the West allow it to happen...

There's the rub, and no mistake.


Manuel | 1439 comments From what I can tell, the monarchy in Saudi Arabia is a lot more respected within the country than in neighboring Bahrain.

My friends from Bahrain tell me they are made to feel inferior by their ruling family. Apparently the Bahrain monarchy came from the mainland two hundred years ago and conquered the islands. Ever since then, there has been a segregation between the Sunni minority (royals) and the Shia majority.

At least the Saudi royal family has been smart enough to share the oil wealth with their citizens, so there is a lot more vested interest in supporting the status quo; nevertheless hardly an example of representative government.


Maphead | 5 comments I might recommend Jared Cohen's book Children of Jihad. I recently reviewed it on my book blog. Feel free to check it out:
http://maphead.wordpress.com/2011/02/...


Monte McGuire | 3 comments Reminds me of Europe 1848.


Count Jared | 39 comments Monte wrote: "Reminds me of Europe 1848."

Or Africa, 1959. Or Europe, 1769. Not a new concept in world politics, certainly, but a compelling one: that the will of the people is the only true sovereign, and that when government seeks to usurp unto itself the sole right to determine the course of the nation, that the people must remove that government, by speech if practical, by violence if necessary.

Straight out of the salons of Paris, circa 1760. Or those of Berlin, circa 1925. Or...


Monte McGuire | 3 comments I meant more about this situation: (From Wikipedia)
The European Revolutions of 1848, known in some countries as the Spring of Nations, were a series of political upheavals throughout Europe. Described by some historians as a revolutionary wave.


message 13: by Al (new)

Al (alshaw) | 2 comments Manuel wrote: "No doubt about it. It will be interesting how the US will be perceived after all the smoke clears.

Who would have thought at the start of the year that only two month into 2011 there would have b..."



Why not democracy?


Count Jared | 39 comments Monte wrote: "The European Revolutions of 1848, known in some countries as the Spring of Nations, were a series of political upheavals throughout Europe. ..."

Possibly a fair parallel, but I like post-colonial Africa better, if we're looking for historical analogues. The mid-60s across the entire world (Africa, Asia, the South Pacific, Central America) saw a wave of revolutions against the colonial powers, including the United States leaping into the Indochina (Vietnam) War against the retreating French colonial power.

The fact that this wave of revolutions are mainly against native, post-colonial rulers doesn't make it look to me, more like the post-monarchical revolutions in Europe. The nexus is ideology, I think: the rebels tend to be democratic and theocratic, often in alliance against autocracies or secular oligarchies that once rose to power as anticolonial rebels themselves.


Marian (gramma) | 98 comments The revolt in the German states (Germany was not United, Bavaria, Saxony, Prussia, Wurtenberg each had their own kings.) The revolt failed to overthrow the kingdoms, but it lead to the unification of the German states under Bismarck in 1871.

The revolt in Wurtenberg in 1848 was brutally put down with the result that thousands of liberals emigrated to America, especially Ohio, Michigan Pennsylvania, Illinois. They were appalled that slavery still existed and began to work to eliminate it. Until then, the anti-slavery states were in New England. The coming of the Germans gave a majority in congress to anti-slavery voters and helped to bring on the Civil War in 1861.


Jerry H | 19 comments Marian wrote: "The revolt in the German states (Germany was not United, Bavaria, Saxony, Prussia, Wurtenberg each had their own kings.) The revolt failed to overthrow the kingdoms, but it lead to the unification..."
I was familiar with the Bismarck era in Germany but was unaware of the American connection. Thank you so much for the post, I will have to look into that aspect.


John Karr (Karr) | 8 comments So USA was firmly behind the Egyptian protesters, after a while, but not the Libyan protesters?


Jeweleye Yeah, go figure.


message 19: by Old-Barbarossa (last edited Mar 17, 2011 11:47PM) (new)

Old-Barbarossa I imagine that if more US investment was in Lybian oil they would be in there by now. (Cynical?)
Also, the rebels seem to be fairly well armed and may take issue with interference. So as there is a fairly active civil war already in play it may be the sensible option to not add another player to the mix. If protesters were unarmed then it would be easier to justify intervention on humanitarian grounds.
But as other middle eastern countries seem to be either slipping on to a similar path or interfering in already shakey situations...well, I think policy makers in the US will be reluctant to commit to any one area as they will find it hard to withdraw once tied into it, or politically messy to shift allegiance.


Old-Barbarossa UN resolution now in place for Lybia. No-Fly zone etc.
Bombs will be falling soon.


Manuel | 1439 comments I think this is a very awkward situation for the US. We already have combat troops in 2 countries in the Middle East and the thought of sending more to a third country is not very palatable for most Americans.

Yes most people sympathize with the Libyan rebels but at the same time we shouldn't be the only participant in this conflict.


George | 179 comments well, the Arab League openly supported the call for a no fly zone before the Security Council voted in favor of it yesterday. But from what I'm reading, the US, Britain and France are looking for Arab participation so that it doesn't look like NATO is ganging up on yet another Muslim country.


Manuel | 1439 comments I remember during the first Gulf War the allied coalition included Egyptians as well as Syrians. If memory serves, the US even allowed Egyptian troops to enter Kuwait first, in order to not make it look like an American operation.


George | 179 comments all true. but this time is truely unique in that Libya had not threatened any neighbor state, but even so the Arab League called on the international community to intervene in what is absolutely an internal affair for another Arab state. it just goes to show how few friends Qaddafi really has. maybe the Egyptian airforce will lend a hand since their so nearby, once the US, France and Britain neutralize the Libyan anti-air defence.


Maureen | 4 comments Can anyone suggest a good book on the fall of the Ottoman Empire?


Brenda (moragg) | 2 comments I'm not sure how the "Mughals" fit in with the Ottoman Empire but they are fascinating to read about!


Will Kester | 1047 comments I just read through this thread for the first time; interesting how things have changed and developed so quickly in Libya.

I am ambivalent about arming the rebels, but if we don't they will get arms from somewhere or lose the rebellion. No good choices here.

Who will be in power if they succeed? Democracy takes many forms. It would be totally possible to have Sharia law in a democratic government, if that's what most of the people want.

It would be more likely another strong man will emerge and become the next oppressive dictator.

If the U.S. works at helping the transition become democratic, it doesn't follow that it will serve us well, or poorly, either. It could breed some resentment or it could develop better relations, either.

It's certainly interesting to watch.


Manuel | 1439 comments CNN says Egypt has been smuggling arms into the rebels for weeks. But as far as we can see, they rebels dont look too organized. Apparently Gaddafi's forces are still 10 times more numerous.....


It is interesting to see how far the reformist elements will succeed in Egypt; the ruling military is still keeping most reformists at arms length and in fact there has been some backsliding into old habits. Apparently several of the reformist protesters were huddled up by the military and tortured in the Egyptian Museum......female protesters were made to strip by male soldiers and subjected to humiliating "virginity tests".


Jimmy Manuel, I think you owe us an explanation of where you got this story of the Egyptian museum. Using the word "apparently" does not cover it for me.


Manuel | 1439 comments Jimmy wrote: "Manuel, I think you owe us an explanation of where you got this story of the Egyptian museum. Using the word "apparently" does not cover it for me."

I saw it on CNN and the BBC


Jimmy I hate to say it but it appears to be a true story. Here's a related article:

http://weknowwhatsup.blogspot.com/201...

We in America have to realize that it is always easier to destroy a government than it is to build one up. And may I suggest that we need to stop spreading this hatred of government because we must always focus on good government. That requires an educated citizenry. One that cares about others. I think we are losing that. I know in my state we had a massive Republican victory which is now calling for things like more guns and cutting unions and attacking teachers. But always protecting the wealthy elite. I don't get it.


Charles (Charles_Sumner) | 1 comments I'm reading a book now about a similar period in history with revolution spreading out from the US to Western Europe.

Its called: "The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World, 1788-1800."


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