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Ben-Meir has a good point.

Reader comment on item: Arablutionaries

Submitted by There is NO Santa Claus (United States), May 25, 2011 at 08:19

The driving force behind the Egypt protests was POVERTY. There are a million homeless people in Cairo. When a few people decided to protest against Mubarak, there were a million men "on call" to join them. They had nothing better to do and all kinds of economic grievances.

It's tough to join a protest against my government when I have to take a day off work (and associated loss-of-pay) to do so. Economic development definitely fosters stability.

That being said, economic development doesn't necessarily foster democracy. China serves as a convenient example.

Dr. Pipes has offered the thesis over the years that high petroleum prices reduce chances of reform because the governments of oil producing nations have the means to "buy" allegiance. The Pipes thesis doesn't work for Egypt because Egypt isn't a large petroleum exporter. Also, the turmoil in Libya, Bahrain and Iran suggest that the Pipes thesis might not hold as events unfold this year.

We are witnessing government instability in the Muslim world. It is the media that has romanticized this into a "democracy" movement. Thus, while Ben-Meier has a good point, it only goes so far as to promote stability. Freedom, democracy and rule-of-law do not necessarily follow.


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