Friday, January 21, 2011

Nunc Scio Tenebris Lux

As Tunisian Squeeze week drives into the week end - a few hot! pieces to check out.

First, check Ilan Berman (one of the smartest cookies in Great Satan's jar - just saying) about the lessons internalized by the remaining 21 despots of Arab League. Cutting to it - the next Arab uprising may get the Tienanmen Square treatment:

"...The lesson Middle Eastern leaders are likely to take away from Ben Ali’s sudden fall from grace is that the Tunisian president wasn’t ousted because he was a strongman, but because he wasn’t enough of one."

 TPM Barnett - the Pentagon Map guy - shares why way more cats than Arab League should be thinking about escape hatches

1. Any regime with a youth bulge should worry.
"...Which is most of the Arab world, really, as the bulk of that population is under 30, with big numbers heading into the workforce over the coming years. Experts estimate that — for the Middle East and North Africa alone — 100 million new jobs need to be created by 2030. And the problems in Tunisia have mostly centered on high unemployment, pure and simple. Ben Ali clearly wasn't getting the job done, and now he's out of one.

2. The European Union should worry.
"...Trapped in its own economic downturn and becoming more wary of foreign workers (e.g., the death of multikulti in Germany), the EU remains the great release valve for North Africa. By being less welcoming, Europe merely condemns North Africa to more tumult like what we've seen this past week, which in turn creates even more of an emigration push from the region. "Children of Men" Europe should know better: it isn't cranking enough babies to be so stand-oafish.

3. China should worry.
"...This week's summit aside, there's simply the lesson of the masses who revolt over there not being enough jobs. China, by all estimates, needs to create 25 million new ones — a year! — to process the inflow of college graduates and others seeking labor. Then there's China's deserved reputation for its overseas investments: Beijing signs a deal for some big construction gig and then imports all the workers from China — only to strand them there once construction is over! Over time, regimes are coming to the conclusion that China is more problem than solution on the jobs front. So am I, on others.

4. Egypt's modern "pharaoh" should worry.
"...Last time I was in Egypt, I heard the same lament from every young man I came across: "I can't get married because I can't get a job!" You want to brew a revolution? There's no faster way than keeping young men from getting their just desserts, if you know what I mean. Put them off long enough, and some will resort to a strap-on — you know, the kind that allegedly wins you 72 virgins in the afterlife. And president pharoah Hosni Mubarak's latest offer to his public is... 8-percent economic growth for the foreseeable future. Now that's downright China-like, if he can keep his promises — and fast.

5. Algeria should worry.
"...Buried in the headlines has been similar street-level unrest nextdoor in Algeria, where the primary complaint is the skyrocketing price of food (30 percent since New Year's Day?!). We've seen these things move in viral waves before (Eastern Europe 1989, the "color revolutions" in the former Soviet Union in the early 2000s), and no amount of hand-washing — much less official hand-wringing — will stem this once like-minded youth culture from coming to the conclusion that, well, Now is the time to stick it to those bastards!

6. Any government keeping the masses happy with food subsidies should worry.
"...I warned about this just last week over at my day job for Wikistrat: With global food supplies already tight and La Niña playing havoc with crops, emerging-market governments the world over face spiking food costs that may reach the destabilizing heights of 2008. How many revolutions in history have been started over the price of bread? Are you kidding? Virtually all of them. Re-read your Victor Hugo.