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The New Arab Public
January 21, 2006 11:19 AM   Subscribe

It's not the war in Iraq that's revolutionizing the Middle East -- it's the media. "Surprisingly, it may be this new public sphere, rather than the war in Iraq or the Bush's administration's democracy rhetoric, that does the most to promote liberalization and reform in the Arab world. " Marc Lynch, an associate professor of political science at Williams College and the (until recently) anonymous writer behind the popular blog Abu Aardvark, talked to Mother Jones about how the new Arab public is transforming the Middle East.
posted by storybored (12 comments total)

 
Yes. I can see it everywhere: women running abut in shorts and thongs; men boozing on street corners...sex bars, bikinis, democratic elections all over the place etc
posted by Postroad at 11:43 AM on January 21, 2006


Except that stations like Al Jazeera are popular, especially among the educated, for their political debates.
posted by apodo at 11:54 AM on January 21, 2006


really, i thought bombing the ever-loving shit out of people made them more liberal.
posted by wakko at 11:54 AM on January 21, 2006


They love our freedom, and want the same, despite our behaviour.
posted by apodo at 11:57 AM on January 21, 2006


Does anyone seriously contend that "democracy rhetoric" is advancing the cause of democracy in the Middle East? That seems like an awful straw man to me. And as for the war, there wouldn't have been a blossoming free press in Iraq before Saddam Hussein was overthrown.
posted by esquire at 12:20 PM on January 21, 2006


The only way to make a country democratic is to force them to be.

Be democratic, you naughty countries!
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:39 PM on January 21, 2006


Well, here in Spain democracy was forcibly introduced by Napoleon, and Spanish people spent the next 150 years arguing and fighting over whether it was good despite being served down the barrel of a gun, or whether it was just foreign nonsense.

Not a cunning way of making a stable society with accountable leaders.

The point of the article was that the Iraq war polarised arab public opinion at a time when satellite TV gave people places that were free from government control, where reasoned argument on the subject was possible. In the long term it is the habit of open debate which will be the foundation of a civil society strong enough to sustain democracy.

Reading the link can be very interesting sometimes.
posted by apodo at 1:03 PM on January 21, 2006


"Surprisingly, it may be this new public sphere, rather than the war in Iraq or the Bush's administration's democracy rhetoric, that does the most to promote liberalization and reform in the Arab world."

I don't think this is a surprise at all. I think no matter how liberal or conservative you are, it's hard to imagine an occupying force as being a 'reasoned' voice in socio-economic/political debate. That has to come from the citizens and up until recently, they simply have not been able to do it - for fear of imprisonment or death. This is notable because even if none of us believe Bush and Co. went in there to bring democracy, it shows that societies have an inherent want for democracy. Although any good coming out of our nonsensical invasion of this soveriegn land is passed off with idiotic comments like this:

"They love our freedom, and want the same, despite our behaviour."

The truth is that the beginnings of change are occuring in Iraq and that change is coming through growing media sources, the word on the street and the newly elected leaders (even if most of them are warlords). Several voices are better than one. And even if like here, you have to sift through any number of idiotic comments to get to some topical debate, at least it's debate in some form and that can't be bad.
posted by j.p. Hung at 2:19 PM on January 21, 2006


That is rather impolite. Do you care to explain yourself?
posted by apodo at 2:41 PM on January 21, 2006


Of course, to say "they want freedom" is sort of silly, since if they didn't want freedom, then they wouldn't want us to care what they want. If they don't want democracy, then in order to give them what they want would requires forcing something on them regardless of what they want, which is what they're getting.

Forcing freedom on someone who doesn't want freedom is actually giving them exactly what they want ;-)

I think this endless feedback loop is starting to hurt. Curses.

(What they really want is a job, good quality of life and to stop getting blown up. And some of them want revenge.)
posted by JekPorkins at 4:09 PM on January 21, 2006



Of course, to say "they want freedom" is sort of silly


Unless you are talking about the militant islamists, who don't want democracy (or even economic development if the Taliban regime was anything to go by). And despite the fact that we are only in a position to impose a system like ours on Iraq as a result of having invaded it, public opinion as expressed on arabic satellite TV stations does not reject our values as alien or un-islamic, and has little or no time for the militants discourse. Which is nice.
posted by apodo at 5:17 PM on January 21, 2006


I'm reminded of this thread about Hamas becomming more media savy.
posted by dobie at 7:06 PM on January 21, 2006


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