Besides wanting democracy and freedom, high unemployment and high food prices were some of the other driving forces for the revolutions that have occurred.
In Egypt a lot of the protesters were young people who couldn’t get a job. Will the new government be able to do anything about that? In countries that already have democracy, like the US, unemployment is very high. So how will democracy change things in Egypt? Or will unemployment still be high and we might see protests against the new government? In Tunisia will their new government be able to lower food prices? If not, will the new government last?
I know that unemployment and food prices are only two components and things like corruption and repression were also reasons for the revolts, but if people are still poor and hungry then it seems logical that there’s the possibility they could consider their new governments a failure. How likely is that to happen?
Personally, I figure the best thing the western countries can do is ship in more electronic communications devices, really saturate the rebellious countries such that no future oligarch will be able to monopolize the lines of information ever again.
Egypt is a nightmare of bureaucracy and corruption. Both of which thrive under tyranny, and both of which help to stunt economic growth. A new government may be able to do something about the absurd bureaucracy and make for a better business climate. Democracy is no guarantee of success, but tyranny is guarantee of failure.
Still, OP has a point, democracy that does not hurry up to deliver the goods in terms of a happier life for the people is vulnerable to the rise of demagogues. How that turns out is involved with other factors such as population’s educational level; sense of national unity vs. factional tribe/class/religion loyalties; stability and internal culture of permanent institutions (e.g. is the Army a professional entity committed to maintaining security, the muscle for the gang in power, a way to give some generals whole brigades of manservants, or just a fancy parade accessory); whether democracy got oversold as the fix for all that ails you; and whether the first democratic governments will not delay unpopular decisions (e.g. cutting subsidies, laying off patronage deadwood) for the sake of keeping momentary peace.
As for jobs, I don’t really see how that could change very much in the near future. If anything, in Egypt things will get worse since tourism is a big industry for them and it dried up because of the protests.
I wonder if any of these newly democratic countries will try to attract more foreign companies. Maybe that, and putting people to work cleaning up the mess that the fighting has caused could be two good ways to help.
As for high food prices, are they a result of corrupt governments, or independent of them?
About a year from now, I expect to see an advertising blitz. “Visit the New Egypt!” “See Free Tunisia!” Apolitical ads playing up the cuisine and the belly dancing and the ruins to see. As for Libya . . . might take a bit longer.
13 have been killed and over a hundred wounded in clashes between Christians and Muslims in Cairo, triggered by a church being demolished by a Muslim mob. Clashes between Christians and Muslims are nothing new in Egypt, where the Coptic minority is under pressure, but they usually have not occurred in Cairo itself. This appears to signal a possible breakdown in public order that, if it continues and grows worse, may make the peaceful transition to democracy problematic.
In addition, women protesting in Tahrir Square over the treatment of women have been publicly attacked and sexually assaulted.
Depends on your definition of “success”. A successful revolution in Egypt would see a government that wasn’t particularly friendly to Israel and this is something America doesn’t want. Basically any ME revolution which is “successful”, which results in a government roughly aligned with the wishes of the majority of its people, will be fairly anti-Israel and thus will be castigated by the US media as extremist, Islamist, radical, etc. etc.
Revolutions in ME countries which just produce a new dictatorship or a new face on an old regime – and which maintain whatever relations the previous regime had with Israel and America – will be lauded as reformist, modernist, a Good Thing. But the people living under them certainly won’t see them as sucessful.
At this point, in Egypt, I’d say “success” ought to be defined in stages.
Stage 1, immediate term: a government able to maintain law and order in the streets - no more sectarian murder, no more public rape in the main square, etc. “Failure” at this stage would be endemic breakdown in law and order, possibly seeing a return to some strong-man to ‘restore order’.
Stage 2, short term: an orderly transition to a real democracy. “Failure” at this stage would be the employment of some sort of sham democracy at the outset (that is, a vote that is simply rigged in some way) or, alternatively, a true vote that is then “frozen” in place by elimination of political opposition, etc., as for example Hamas.
Stage 3, long term: the new, democratic government focusing successfully on tackling Egypt’s manifold and serious problems - mainly, extreme overpopulation, agricultural concerns, water allocation issues vs. upstream Africa, chronic underemployment, corruption, etc. etc. and not get sidetracked or distracted by foreign entanglements - such as the sterile conflict with Israel. “Failure” at this stage could come by being simply unable to tackle these problems in any meaningful manner (and many of them appear on their face nearly insoluble).
All one has to do is look at Congo (Kinshasa) to see what is possible. Sure Mobutu was a dictator that used the nation as his own personal bank account, but after he was tossed out, did it get better? No, instead it got tossed into the worst war since WWII.
Now that doesn’t mean it HAS to be like that, it almost certainly won’t be like that, but best intentions don’t always bring best results
First, I don’t think it’s a given that if any of the countries have a true democracy they would be automatically be anti Israel. Or rather, would implement any anti Israeli policies.
But if they do, it’s all about how they handle things that would determine if they would be extremist or not. If they criticize how Israel is handling things and make demands like Israel stop expanding settlements, that’s one thing. If they take a “Death to Israel” approach and start funding groups like Hamas then yeah, they are extremist.
I don’t think we’re going to see success as you define it. If Egyptians vote for a Hamas-style government, and Hamas are actually an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, why would that be a failure of democracy?