is 2011 the next 1989?


I’m guessing that by now most readers of politics related blogs will have had their fill of State of the Union analysis. So I wanted to take this opportunity to shift the conversation to what I think has the opportunity to be the most important political development in 2011, the events that have transpired in Tunisia over the past month. While undoubtedly important for the Tunisian people, the larger question is whether Tunisia could turn out to be the Poland of the Arab world: the first transition away from a regime long thought to be immutable that sets in motion a path of regime change throughout the region. At first glance, this would seem to be extremely unlikely. Prior to Tunisia, it is difficult to remember the last Middle Eastern regime to fall outside of an external invasion (Iran in 1979?). And yet, a quick glance at a Google News search for Tunisia reveals articles linking protests in Tunisia to events in Egypt, Algeria, Jordan and even Gabon and Indonesia. As I have previously noted, I know next to nothing about Tunisian politics. I have, however, studied the collapse of Communism in East-Central Europe in 1989 in some detail, and so would like to offer the following observations about what lessons 1989 might have to offer those prognosticating about 2011.

more from Joshua Tucker at The Monkey Cage here.