Introduction: The Arab Spring in Global Perspective
The Arab Spring has reopened fundamental questions about global political change that have been salient since the end of the Cold War. The events of 2011 in the Middle East were strikingly reminiscent of the revolutions of 1989 in Eastern Europe. Like the 1989 revolutions, they were almost entirely unanticipated and occurred in a region assumed to be a bastion of unshakable authoritarianism. Like the 1989 revolutions, commentators had been so focused on questions of military security that they failed to notice how deeper changes in technology and the global economy were undermining authoritarian states. Like the 1989 revolutions, the Arab Spring spread rapidly through regional contagion and toppled a series of brutal regimes. Moreover, as with the revolutions of 1989, the Arab Spring triggered a swathe of democratic transitions which will have major ramifications for the future of the region and of the world. Just as Francis Fukuyama criticized commentators in 1989 for failing to relate unfolding developments in Eastern Europe to a larger historical pattern, the same argument can be leveled at discussions of the revolutions of 2011.2
KeywordsMiddle East International Relation Liberal Democracy World Politics Comparative Politics
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