It's a recurrent motto in the Arab region: revolutions make things worse. The so-called Arab Spring went from a bad situation for many in the region to a truly terrible one, with one notable exception -- Tunisia.
As to who played the scorpion and who played the crocodile, I'd give the first title "Scorpion" to Dick Cheney and share the second, "Crocodile" between Bush Jr. and Obama. Cheney injected the venom and Bush and Obama have been drowning in it ever since.
The soft power of America's open society has once again come to the rescue of its hard power misadventures, this time by coming clean on the post-9/11 practice of torture. As China and several other countries intensify their crackdown on the Internet and open expression in general, the U.S. offers a lesson: honest criticism fortifies the legitimacy of government, not weakens it, because it assures an avenue for self-correction. In The WorldPost this week, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who led the charge as head of the Senate Intelligence Committee that released the controversial torture report, writes that "torture goes against the very soul of our country." Howard Fineman reports why Sen. John McCain, a leading Republican and POW during the Vietnam War, also believes torture is a "stain" on America's national honor -- and ineffective to boot. (continued)
If the sharply contrasting views of students in Xian or Beijing and Hong Kong are any indication, Deng Xiaoping's ideal formulation of "one country, two systems" has morphed into another reality: one country, two dreams. George Chen writes that President Xi Jinping's "Chinese Dream" competes with other narratives in today's China: the "get rich is glorious" story of Alibaba's Jack Ma and the democratic aspirations of the Hong Kong students. In a conversation with students after a lecture in Beijing, Amitai Etzioni detected a surprisingly aggressive patriotism, and even anti-Americanism, in college students he spoke with. WorldPost Senior Editor Kathleen Miles found similar sentiments when she talked with other students in Beijing as well as Xian. In contrast, WorldPost China Correspondent Matt Sheehan observes that the student-led umbrella protests in Hong Kong have become a "defining generational moment," not unlike the burst of freedom against authority in the 1960s in the West, that will trouble Beijing for a long time to come. (continued)
As Pope Francis slammed Europe as "elderly and haggard" in an address this week in Strasbourg, the speaker of the Polish parliament, Radek Sikorski, warned in the WorldPost that Europe's starkest challenge is defending "a world of rules" against an aggressive Russia. Writing from the Vatican for our "Following Francis" series, Sébastien Maillard looks at the "holy ghostwriters" behind the pontiff's tweets and encyclicals. WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones reports from Istanbul on yet another retrograde move in Turkey's modern history taken by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who declared this week that men and women can't be equal. Though Erdogan still considers the Kurdish Democratic Union Party a terrorist organization, Nazand Begikhani writes from Iraqi Kurdistan about how women from that party who have taken up arms to defend their fellow Kurds from the radically misogynist Islamic State are also advancing equal rights in their own society. This week, as the Israeli cabinet moved to define Israel as a "Jewish state," the French parliament, like other European parliaments of late, is voting on whether to recognize a Palestinian state. Writing from Paris, Bernard-Henri Lévy argues passionately that such a move, intended to enhance peace, will perpetuate war. (continued)
On the same day this week that President Obama announced a measure that could give legal protection to 5 million undocumented immigrants, massive protests raged across Mexico against the impunity and corruption that led to the horrific massacre of 43 students. From Mexico City, Sergio Sarmiento, Elena Poniatowska and Homero Aridjis chronicle the events and ponder what's next. Anthropologist Claudio Lomnitz examines the causes behind Mexico's corrosive impunity. Meanwhile, as Xin Chunying writes from Beijing, China is also seeking to establish the rule of law through steadily boosting the role of the National People's Congress. While stifling dissent, China's President Xi is taking on both "tigers and flies" in his no-holds-barred assault from the top down on corruption. Can China's effort succeed without active public engagement? Can Mexico learn from China and move from angry protest to systemic change? (continued)
As soon as the Tunisian elections results were announced with Nidaa Tounes overtaking Ennahdha party, celebrations of the "Islamists'" defeat at the hands of the "secularists" got underway across the media in France and many other western capitals.
The seminar that included participants from Syria, Yemen, Qatar, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Iraq, Algeria and Turkey ended with an eight-point statement to combat hate speech and promote actions to further ethics, good governance and self-regulation.
It takes a strong state, not (to paraphrase Hillary Clinton) a democratic village, to aggressively fight climate change. This is the inconvenient message emerging in the wake of the Xi-Obama deal on global warming announced in Beijing this week. Both leaders will pursue executive action to fulfill their pledges. As Kerry Brown writes, Xi's decision is binding within China because a long process of consultation and consensus building within the Communist Party stands behind it. What Obama can do is up for grabs. No sooner did the pledge escape his lips than the incoming Republican majority leaders in the U.S. Congress make their own pledge to block Obama by any means necessary. In The WorldPost this week, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim writes that the landmark Xi-Obama agreement is not only good for the environment, but also for the economy. Environmentalist Bill McKibben parses out "what the deal is, and what it isn't." (continued)
The world is at a tipping point. Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the ensuing rise of China and other emerging economies, fragile institutions -- the Asia Pacific Economic Community summit taking place in Beijing and the G-20 in a few days in Brisbane -- are trying to hold the links of peace and prosperity together.
Since his highly controversial exchange with Ben Affleck and Nicholas Kristof on October 3rd, Bill Maher has insisted that he's simply stating the unpleasant facts about the Muslim world. But there are two particularly noxious myths that need to be debunked.
How did a simple weekend trip become a veritable affair of state? Having come to meet with leaders of various Libyan factions at the Hôtel La Résidence, a philosopher found himself at the center of a maelstrom in which rumor and spite eclipsed truth and diplomacy.
The savagery of ISIS, the slaughterhouse of Syria's civil war, the marauding militias in Libya and the restored autocracy in Egypt have devoured the hopes of the Facebook generation that spawned the Arab Spring. In Tunisia alone the spirit of the Jasmine Revolution still flowers. While the character of Tunisian society and culture has much to celebrate with its success, including just-completed peaceful elections that favored the main secular party, there is another factor: the absence of outside intervention, particularly from the West. In The WorldPost this week Rafik Abdessalem, Tunisia's former foreign minister, explains why despotism will never return to his country. Soumaya Ghannoushi argues that the many years that activists from the moderate Islamist Ennahdha Party spent in exile abroad taught them "the art of compromise and consensus, which may be the hallmark of the nascent Tunisian political model." Jonathan Labin, head of Middle East, Africa and Pakistan for Facebook, chronicles how the same social media that fomented political upheaval is now connecting young people in the region to jobs. (continued)
This week, Tunisia rescued what was called four years ago the Jasmine revolution, which gave birth to the Arab Spring, by letting the whole know that it rejects imposing religion on the state, and that it insists on secularism and modernity.
Tunisia is a small country with a big audience. The process of electing a parliament and a president matters, not only because it keeps the democratic process alive, but also for the signals it sends the rest of the Arab world. Tunisia, the cradle of the revolution, keeps on setting the agenda.
As the Tunisian elections are scheduled to take place next Sunday, political groups and parties are gearing up for a battle they described as "transformative moment" in the history of Tunisia.