What could Libya, Egypt and Syria have used from From Dictatorship to Democracy?


So apparently Libya, in place of its former tyrant, Moammar Gadhafi, is overrun by militias and warlords in lieu of a central state. Now, class, what did the people involved in toppling Gadhafi forget to do in order to ensure the stability of their country post-topple?

That’s right! They forgot to concurrently build an independent society or parallel government to take over once the conflict is over, as advised in From Dictatorship to Democracy. That step eases the transition from the former regime to the new (ideally better) one instead of allowing everything to just devolve into chaos. Now you can see for yourself in black and white (and red…) how important that step is. Remember: don’t create a power vacuum!

Of course, there are a lot of things that “movement” did that also go against the advice in FDTD (e.g. violence), so I’m not saying it’s otherwise a perfect role model of the book’s ideas. Nor am I saying it’s easy to do any of these things. (Obviously, or else Occupy wouldn’t have dissolved into nothingness.)


Now, on that note, what about Egypt? That was a bit different, wasn’t it? Instead of descending into shattered bits of anarchy, there was a coup d’etat by the military. Which Sharpian guidelines could they have benefitted from?

That’s right! Don’t replace one dictatorship with another! (Sharp also flat-out advises against staging a coup d’etat.) If you just end up with another dictatorship (which seems a fair enough term to use for military rule over there), what was the point of all that struggle, right?


As for Syria, I wonder if strictly adhering to non-violence would have benefitted the rebels in the long run. The international community would probably have been decisively on their side instead of the ambivalence they now express, and Assad may have been pressured into standing down. Instead, thousands have died and millions are displaced–and for what?

By way of comparison, look at Ukraine, whose leader fled Kiev for no apparent reason (yeah, I know, the protestors, but that didn’t seem to bother Assad). Obviously there must be some key difference between the circumstances to have provoked this response instead of a violent crackdown. I’ll leave that as an exercise for the class.


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