Full refund within 30 days if you're not completely satisfied.
2 Bloomsbury Place, London wc1a 2qa Publishing 020 7255 1281 Editorial 020 7255 1344 Fax 020 7255 1279 Email email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Website www.prospect-magazine.co.uk Editorial Editor and chief executive Bronwen Maddox Editor at large David Goodhart Senior editor Susha Ireland Senior & online editor Mary Fitzgerald Arts & books editor Natalie Young Web intern David Wolf Editorial intern Ollie Cussen Sub editor Caroline Palmer Creative director David Killen Publishing President & co-founder Derek Coombs Publisher David Hanger Business manager Andy Hawkins Head of advertising sales Iain Adams Finance manager Pauline Joy Advertising sales Iain Adams, Display, 020 7255 1934 Julian Clark, Display, 020 7255 1281 Chris Anson, Display, 01424 838 855 Tim de la Salle, Classifieds, 020 7255 1281 Editorial advisory board Peter Bazalgette, David Cannadine, Clive Cowdery, Jonathan Ford, AC Grayling, Peter Hall, John Lloyd, Toby Mundy, Jean Seaton Associate editors Andrew Brown, James Crabtree, David Edmonds, Ian Irvine, Sam Leith, Alexander Linklater, Kamran Nazeer, Elizabeth Pisani, Katharine Quarmby, Richard Reeves, Stuart Reid, Wendell Steavenson Contributing editors Philip Ball; Barry Cox; Anthony Dworkin; Catherine Fieschi; Dean Godson; David Herman; Josef Joffe; Anatole Kaletsky; Philippe Legrain; Michael Lind; Joy Lo Dico; Oliver Morton; Jonathan Power; Alex Renton; Ben Rogers; Erik Tarloff Annual subscription rates UK £48; Student £27 Europe £55; Student £32.50 Rest of the World £59.50; Student £35 Prospect Subscriptions, 800 Guillat Avenue, Kent Science Park, Sittingbourne, me9 8gu Tel 0844 249 0486; 44(0)1795 414 957 Fax 01795 414 555 Email email@example.com Cheques payable to Prospect Publishing Ltd. Subscription refunds must be made in writing to Prospect within four weeks of a new order or renewal, and are subject to an administration charge of £15. No refunds are paid on quarterly subscriptions. The views represented in this magazine are not necessarily those of Prospect Publishing Ltd. Best endeavours have been taken in all cases to represent faithfully the views of all contributors and interviewees. The publisher accepts no responsibility for errors, omissions or the consequences thereof. Newstrade distribution Comag Specialist, Tavistock Road, West Drayton, ub7 7qe, Tel: 01895 433716 Images Cover: Reuters Comment images: Toby Morison Design consultant: Mike Kenny Additional design: Jennifer Owens Cartoons by: Bill Stott, Roy Delgado, Phil Witte, Gray Jolliffe, Susan Camilleri Konar, CB, Joseph Farris, Bernie ISSN: 13595024
The reality of Arab democracy
You can’t overstate the discomfort for Britain, or America, from the revolution in Tahrir Square and the shock it sent across the middle east. William Hague, foreign secretary, was cautious in greeting the upheaval, although he did urge Egypt’s army to resist the temptations of power and move quickly to elections. It was more painful to watch President Obama try to put words to the uprising which embodies all the youthful idealism he champions, but confounds his own actions in office.
fter all, it is less than two years since he stood shoulder to shoulder with President Hosni Mubarak (albeit a head taller) and called the Egyptian leader a “stalwart ally” and a “force for good.” When Mubarak quit, Obama ventured that: “Egyptians have inspired us, and they’ve done so by putting the lie to the idea that justice is best gained through violence.”
Indeed. He meant it as a compliment to the protestors’ peaceful tactics. But in supporting Mubarak, Europe and the US have propped up an autocrat whose violence against opponents has been chronicled for years. In a notable 2004 report, “Egypt’s Torture Epidemic,” Human Rights Watch recorded the rise in the torture of dissidents and in deaths in police custody.
It is not just that backing a dictator offends the values that Europe and the US claim to promote (although beyond dispute, it does). David Davis (p12) asks when you should exchange idealism for realpolitik. Less quickly than in the past, should be the first retort. That’s also the answer given by Eugene Rogan (p28), who argues that Arab democracy is certainly no fantasy. But while it’s overdue, it will bring immense upheaval, he says, and Yemen may prove the most dangerous of all.
f course, it is easy to warn that Arab elections might install rulers who prove uninterested in sustaining democratic values at home, never mind being friendly to the west. Yet democratic countries, in failing to urge their own values on other nations, have thrown away the chance to help them manage two decades of extraordinary global change. Too many Arab countries became frozen societies, failing to develop ministries, justice, jobs—or the taste for smaller families that much of the world has acquired. The demographic explosion in the region has long been predicted; in Tahrir Square, it converged with the phenomena of the internet, Facebook and Twitter. On p31, Shereen El Feki, who says her Cairo friends have found the overthrow of Mubarak “inevitable but also inconceivable,” asks whether relations between old and young will also be transformed, and whether the patriarchal cast of many Egyptian families will now give way.
It’s not impossible for democratic countries to help that transformation, although their influence will be small. In his report on Tony Blair’s four years as middle east envoy (p32), Donald Macintyre points out that the former prime minister has had some small successes in helping Palestinians build the base of their own state. Blair himself argues to Prospect (p36) that resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian deadlock would remove a provocation of endless resonance that Islamic militants use to win recruits. On that point, he is surely right.
march 2011 · prospect · 3