Is Tunisian-Type Political Change Possible in China?

Would the escalating tide of Tunisian-style political change reach all dictatorships? If so, how vulnerable China really is for that type of turbulent change of that nature? More to the point, how can China avoid a potential cataclysmic change that has swept one dictator out of Tunisia and is currently mounting to end the tyranny of another dictator in Egypt? These are some of the questions that are being raised in the inner sanctums of Chinese leadership. What is more troubling for the Chinese leaders is that the Chinese netizens (Internet citizens or cybercitizens) are also discussing this issue. Continue reading “Is Tunisian-Type Political Change Possible in China?”

The Fading Pharaoh of Egypt and the New Mega Power

Sweep most old phrases of the post-World War II era, and discard the concepts “superpowers,” middle powers, and small powers, in terms of their significant roles in bringing about changes of regional or global significance. The not-so-new era called the “age of information revolution” has begun to show its real power. The new mega power of our era is the Internet. Tweeting is the new social movement of the 21st Century; and mobile messaging is the new revolutionary way of carrying the messages of change, especially in places where regimes envision information control as a chief tool of survival. The autocrats of the Middle East know that their days are numbered. And Al Jazeera is the new medium of challenging the status quo inside the Arab world, as WikiLeaks is the medium of change in the world at large, while the old news channels of the West – the BBC, the CNN, etc. – are struggling to maintain their erstwhile high visibility. Their long-standing image of being the representatives of Western dominance of the globe is also affecting their credibility, as the scrappy reporters of Al Jazeera are reporting from the burning fields of Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and whichever country engulfed in the fire of major political change in the Middle East. Continue reading “The Fading Pharaoh of Egypt and the New Mega Power”

The Making of History in Egypt Through al-Jazeera’s lens

Al Jazeera’s (AJ) live coverage of the growing crisis in Egypt is absolutely superb. I was watching it almost all day long on Friday (January 28, 2011). They had lined up a number of Middle Eastern experts from Egypt and Qatar, and were using them effectively. The AJ’s ground crew was cool, professional, systematic, and thorough in terms of providing live coverage from Cairo and Alexandria. A moment of drama appeared briefly, when the security forces of Egypt entered the building from where AJ’s cameras were providing the live coverage in Cairo. As it turned out, either they did not reach the area of the building from where AJ was doing its coverage, or they were distracted by other events. Fortunately, AJ’s coverage continued. Continue reading “The Making of History in Egypt Through al-Jazeera’s lens”

America’s Nightmare: Democratic Change in the Middle East

Arab misery, stemming from living under the scourge of autocratic rule for decades, will be over if the process of democratic change – which started in Tunisia – flows to their countries and sweeps all the tyrants into the dustbin of history. However, such a development is likely to be nightmarish for the United States, which has been so accustomed to ordering around those autocrats to do its bidding in the Arab world. That might be one reason the blooms of democratic change are likely to be trampled under the jack boots of baton-waving security goons and riot control vehicles. Continue reading “America’s Nightmare: Democratic Change in the Middle East”

The Lame Duck Factor of Hu Jintao

The lame duck factor is a fact of American political grammar. It describes the third year of the second term of a sitting president. From then on, all important policy decisions or policy changes must wait until the election of his successor. Is a similar phenomenon also emerging for China, which is not a democracy? Even for a non-democratic system, China has institutionalized the process of orderly succession of its president and prime minister. President Hu has a little more than a year left before he must step down. How does that fact weigh among U.S. China-watchers who are advising President Barack Obama about dealing with China? Are U.S.-China relations going to be less or more confrontational or conciliatory when his successor comes to power? Continue reading “The Lame Duck Factor of Hu Jintao”

The “Mustadafeen” and the Foreign Maneuvers in Lebanon

The very creation of Lebanon was the result of foreign maneuvers.  Those maneuvers eventually created a political order whose permanence has remained questionable at best.  At the present time, a number of outside actors have once again started their selfish maneuvers with a vengeance involving that country.  In the eye of the gathering storm are the findings of the U.N.-backed panel about who or what group was responsible for the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, Lebanon’s former Premier, in February 2005. Those findings are expected to name members of Hezbollah as the culprits. Continue reading “The “Mustadafeen” and the Foreign Maneuvers in Lebanon”

Can the ‘Jasmine Revolution’ of Tunisia be a Trend-setter for the Arab World?

The enormous significance of regime change in Tunisia is that it was the first such occurrence that was brought about not by invading Western military forces, but by the citizens of that country.  That, indeed, has been one of the most incredible developments in the new year 2011.  However, to think that it would be a trend-setter for similar ousters of dictators and autocrats of the Arab world might be simply wishful thinking.  One has to wait and see what happens to Tunisia in the coming years.  If it were to become a democracy of some sort, only then can one extrapolate that democratic political change might be repeated in other Arab countries.  On the contrary, if it becomes a place where Islamist forces emerge as powerful actors, then a repeat of the Jasmine Revolution elsewhere in the Arab world will turn out to be a pipedream.  The leading obstacle in the way of the repeat of the Jasmine Revolution will be the United States, the chief hegemon of the Arab world, and a country that has the most to lose if Islamists capture power in Tunisia.  Just recall the American nightmare related to the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Continue reading “Can the ‘Jasmine Revolution’ of Tunisia be a Trend-setter for the Arab World?”

The PLA Versus The PRC’s Civilian Leadership: Who’s In Charge?

  One unexpected development from the U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ highly publicized trip to China is that there are rumors and speculation that President Hu Jintao does not really have a firm grip on his country’s foreign policy; that the PLA is getting ahead of the PRC’s civilian leadership in conveying its displeasure of kowtowing to the United States; and that the PLA might be setting a precedent in creating fresh parameters for China’s foreign policy.  Continue reading “The PLA Versus The PRC’s Civilian Leadership: Who’s In Charge?”

China and United States: Pushing Diplomacy, Preparing for the Next Military Contingency

The essence of Great Power military competition involving two potential adversaries is to prepare for a military contingency while doing everything to avoid such contingency.  That may sound somewhat illogical, but no one has ever said that balance-of-power-related maneuvers are either straightforward or simplistic.  What it means is that diplomacy will be given a high priority while preparing for a potential military conflict.  That mind-boggling reality is driving the PRC and the U.S. military competition.  They are preparing for war, while their diplomats are working diligently to avoid it. Continue reading “China and United States: Pushing Diplomacy, Preparing for the Next Military Contingency”

Is Religious Moderation Dying in Pakistan?

The recent assassination of the Governor Salman Taseer of Punjab, the most populous state of Pakistan and the state that formulates a large chunk of its Army, raises that perennial question:  Is religious moderation dying in Pakistan?  Assassin’s bullets are notorious about leading to major cataclysmic events, and one should be careful about reading too much into such events.  However, in Pakistan’s case no amount of broad sweep of analytical thinking may be regarded as exaggeration.  Continue reading “Is Religious Moderation Dying in Pakistan?”