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Guest Thinkers

The Risks of Revolution

After the euphoria of Tunisia and Egypt, Qaddafi’s defiance provides a reminder that revolutions are often bloody and uncertain for their duration, says Wendell Steavenson.

All the odds were against the recent democratic uprisings in the Middle East. So with our predictive capacities so embarrassingly feeble, we should appeal to a narrative that unifies Arab people against their oppressors: “The idea that Arab governments should respond to their citizens instead of ruling them is almost unprecedented. The people of the Middle East, like Emile Habiby’s tragicomic hero Saeed the Pessoptimist, have been subject to the vicissitudes of their history: occupation, empire, emir. Saeed resists the lures of both optimism and pessimism.”


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