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The Arab Spring is actually the Arab century — Lustick

Israel/Palestine
on 12 Comments

Last week at Penn, the realist scholar Ian Lustick said some interesting things about the Arab Spring. He speaks at about 1:10 in this video. Here’s my transcript:

I’d like to put [the Arab Spring] in more historical context. What you’ve got in the Middle East is decrepit regimes in which their decrepitude is being exposed. It’s an Arab order that lasted a lot longer than comparable orders in other parts of the decolonized world for a variety of reasons, including oil. But the process that we’re seeing is the process of masses becoming involved in politics. One of the things that was true of all the Arab countries is that what the masses wanted didn’t matter. Because of oil, because of the connections of strategic rents relationships with outside powers, because of strong militaries connected to monarchies and state bureaucracies and so on. And for other reasons.

But this process in which the masses become relevant to politics– in Europe this went on for decades and decades, to play itself out in its implications. To think, that, well, the Arab Spring didn’t happen exactly the way we had hoped. My god, It hasn’t barely started. The Arab spring is really the opening of the masses… and the Egyptian situation is not over. That regime is not going to last. It’s not going to be the way masses enter politics in the Middle East. That’s [the regime’s] whole raison d’etre, is to prevent that from happening. They’re trying to keep their finger in the dyke.
But for Israel the ultimate implication of the masses entering politics, masses who are exceedingly anti-Zionist and increasingly anti-Semitic, is the closure of that window that existed while those regimes weren’t so decrepit and could actually have benefited, via the Arab peace plan for example, from an agreement with Israel as long as there was some kind of Palestinian state– that’s gone.

One of the things it means is that an Israeli, thinking about what we will get by ripping ourselves out of the West Bank and Gaza– what will we get? Will we get peace with the Arab world? Who can trust these regimes? Or, ff you trust the Arab spring, it means the masses will come into power. And those masses will want to wipe us away. So that reduces the incentive to negotiate a withdrawal. So the implications of the Arab spring which is more like probably an Arab century, a huge long geological shift that we’re looking at–
let’s not confine ourselves to a week by week pundit analysis of what these events mean.

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12 Responses

  1. OlegR
    OlegR
    October 21, 2013, 11:41 am

    /One of the things it means is that an Israeli, thinking about what we will get by ripping ourselves out of the West Bank and Gaza– what will we get? Will we get peace with the Arab world? Who can trust these regimes? Or, ff you trust the Arab spring, it means the masses will come into power. And those masses will want to wipe us away. So that reduces the incentive to negotiate a withdrawal./

    He is right that is exactly the current mindset, not sure how from that insight he could conclude that 1SS would be a great idea as an alternative.

    • W.Jones
      W.Jones
      October 21, 2013, 12:15 pm

      Oleg,

      Maybe his message is that the best thing to do is stop abusing people and violating human rights, so that people have a basis for more favorable views?

      But your question is not baseless. If that really is his view, what does he see as the best strategy and goal? Perhaps he means that people need to recognize the real situation for the long term and do their best to get along. What he is saying can be the basis for a reappraisal. What is the best way to get along with masses of people in the long term?

      Perhaps his view is that the best thing is to develop and reform societies. The “answer” of destroying the neighbors like Syria and Iraq may actually make things worse and more resentful in the long run than reforming things and trying to get along.

    • Taxi
      Taxi
      October 22, 2013, 12:29 am

      ” what will we get”? – oleg.

      Thieves usually get the ball and chain, deary. In some countries they get their hands chopped off. Best you go back to Russia before someone catches you with your hand in the cookie jar.

  2. W.Jones
    W.Jones
    October 21, 2013, 12:19 pm

    But for Israel the ultimate implication of the masses entering politics, masses who are exceedingly anti-Zionist and increasingly anti-Semitic,

    How are they more anti-semitic than they were in the past?

    One of the things it means is that an Israeli, thinking about what we will get by ripping ourselves out of the West Bank and Gaza– what will we get?
    You would have less occupation, which would reduce reasons for resentment. Plus you could make the Arab Peace plan. Neither of course means that all problems are solved.

    • K Renner
      K Renner
      October 22, 2013, 9:41 am

      >> How are they more anti-semitic than they were in the past?

      It’s trash. Pseudo-intellectual blather.

      The Arab nations have always been anti-Zionist, and for good reason– but the “increasing anti Semitism” really only applies to certain groups who for the most part have been discredited and are massively controversial in their own countries– Egypt’s “Muslim Brotherhood”, for example, which is notorious for catering to the whims of the fringe extremist elements in Egyptian society, or the woefully underpaid and undereducated and disgruntled.

  3. MHughes976
    MHughes976
    October 21, 2013, 1:26 pm

    What measure is Lustick using when he says that the Arab masses are increasingly anti-Semitic? ‘Anti-Semitism’ usually implies sustained and irrational prejudice. Is that the implication he intends?
    Does he think that the Palestinians, who suffer most from Zionism but also have the strongest immediate incentive to make a deal that improves their lot, are being drawn into the Continuing Arab Spring on the same terms as those who may resent Israel but live outside its control?
    Though his general view seems to be that the 2SS is quite unrealistic I would think that his actual argument implies that Israel’s best current option – best by miles – would be to offer a 2SS in short order, making it ‘generous’ enough for the population of the new Palestinian State to feel genuinely independent but to be drawn into significant and rewarding economic cooperation with Israel, giving them a reason not to listen to ‘increasingly anti-Zionist, increasingly anti-Semitic’ voices in the wider Arab world.

  4. pabelmont
    pabelmont
    October 21, 2013, 2:55 pm

    Good luck to the Arabs and to us all — in getting out-from-under the beast of imperial power.

    Today the over-arching imperialism, which controls or greatly influences the lesser ones, is the combined power (a nearly cooperative rather than contentious or competitive power) of the great corporations. they gave us the name Banana Republic which is today a brand name but was once an OPEN ADMISSION that the USA’s corporations controlled whole Meso-American countries, as mining companies and Monsanto, NAFTA, and so forth still do.

    The USA itself is controlled by the great corporations, so that popular political power governs only stuff the BIGs don’t care about, like reproduction, marriage, race, narcotics (but BIG-PRIVATE-JAILS and BIG-LAW-ENFORCEMENT care a lot about the war on drugs).

    The difficulty for Americans of getting traction about I/P is due to BIG-ZION (not, perhaps, a corporate interest, though there seem to be a lot of Zionists who are CEOs of BIGs).

    The difficulty for Americans of getting traction about CLIMATE CHANGE is that BIGS (BIG-OIL, BIG-COAL, BIG-GAS, the new BIG-FRAK) are steam-rollering the people.

    Watch BIG-BANKs slither out from under regulation. OTOH, watch BIG-BANKs prevent Tea Party from shutting down the USA.

    What the BIGs want, the BIGs get. As to climate change, watch this very interesting discussion. (Starts a bit after 2:00).

  5. Keith
    Keith
    October 21, 2013, 4:35 pm

    “The Arab spring is really the opening of the masses….”

    Lord save us from Marxists and their decrepit ideology. Having been almost totally marginalized in a capitalist political economy which they don’t understand, they grasp at straws. Suddenly, bread riots in reaction to neoliberalism are transformed into a fanciful “Arab Spring.” The “masses” are rising up! Ya, sure, you betcha. The Left, what is left of it, is doomed to ongoing irrelevancy as long as it clings to Marxist ideology.

  6. traintosiberia
    traintosiberia
    October 21, 2013, 6:27 pm

    Arab spring has alot of nodes of activities.These activities are different in terms of what processes they are looking at to address the problems. The problems are unversal and time tested , meaning these crises are not new to human beings or to societies ,neither the responses -whther it was the Champi rebellion in Italy in 14 the centry, or the demands of the levellers under Cromwell’s inadequate reforms or the revolt of the luddities in industrial age of UK or the rebellion in India agaisnt British East India company bruoght to a boling point by the religious sentiment , an undue focus on which delegitimizes the real economic issues of the prevailing time period .
    Bread riot in Egypt is not about one piece of bread by one lonely person who we think has no understanding of the exploitative nature of the economy. Neither the grievances of the occupy wall street movement is simply about one time stealing by wall street. Movements peter out only to come back with tsunami. China after Chiang Kei sheck or Lenin after 1905 revolution are stark reminders that floodgate can rip the complacency and the frustration apart easily. US endured same agony after 1776 allowing the Brtish to chuckle a little over the Shay revolution and peasant rebellion. The revoluition that engulfed Vietnam and Cuba also did not start the way the ended . It is the continous active participation by the masses that will get the right leader out in the front .That porcess was also evident in the birth of modern India. 1905 India with revolutioary zeal was different by the time Ghandhi started walking with little clothes around his loin.
    Arab spring can also raise the possibility of unified resitance and birth of one Arab. Splintered Arabs are more cohesive than India has been . As long as Egypt keeps resisting , Tunisia keeps evolving , and Libya remains a country without authoritarian leader – there is hope.
    The revolution is not going to peter out in the sand.

  7. wondering jew
    wondering jew
    October 21, 2013, 10:59 pm

    Finger in the dike is misspelled.

  8. W.Jones
    W.Jones
    October 25, 2013, 1:10 am

    At the end Max said that liberal supporters of the State like Altermann and Beinart will not debate him or be on a panel with him. He thinks it’s because Max’s facts don’t match their own preconceptions of the situation and their liberal or humanitarian views.

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