sábado, 31 de agosto de 2013

Germany and EU´s Unification

Lessons in Unification: Germany's History and the EU's Future

From  STRATFOR - Global Intelligence
By Marc Lanthemann
Europe's leaders will soon return from summer vacation, and when they do, they will be forced to confront problems that persisted in their absence -- namely, high unemployment and a looming consumer credit crisis. Some have expressed optimism over recent improvements in the European crisis, but German leaders may be less assured. More than anyone else, they understand that the debate over whether the European Union should integrate further is unavoidable; further integration may be one of the only ways the bloc can outlive its current problems. 
They understand this because Germany's own unification was such an arduous process. It took decades of war, major technological shifts and extraordinary leadership for the various German mini-states to unify. Ultimately, they came together for one reason: survival. Now Germany must once again measure the risks and rewards associated with integration, only this time for the sake of preserving the whole of Europe. But there is a limit to how much Berlin is willing to sacrifice for a group of nations that innately distrusts German power.

Partial Execution

As a model of governance, the European Union failed simply because it was never executed fully. In 1992, a few countries within the European Union's free trade zone agreed to abandon their own currencies for a common currency, thereby relinquishing their monetary policy to a centralized bureaucracy, the European Central Bank. They did not agree on what their next steps should be toward further fiscal, and thus political, integration. The eurozone has since expanded to include 17 countries, but it did little to change the fact that the value of money was created in one place but spent in another.
This arrangement proved to be an extraordinary generator of wealth in times of global prosperity, so long as financial markets regarded Greece's economic risk to be on par with Germany's. But it left the eurozone uniquely unequipped to deal with large-scale economic crises. Without monetary control, individual countries could not devalue their currencies -- a common practice for escaping recessions. Meanwhile, EU institutions were unable to implement and enforce a coherent strategy because they lacked the fiscal and political control over their constituent members. By dividing power between the countries and a centralized bureaucracy, each part is left unable to move effectively, and the entire system becomes paralyzed.
In its current form, the European Union is inherently unstable and unsustainable. However, many Europeans still believe the Continent can and should be unified; for them, unification is a path out of the current crisis. And they are right to think so. In theory, a federalized Europe would be more stable and more prosperous than the current hybridized system.
These are only the most recent Europeans to dream of a unified Continent. Many before them have attempted to bring so many countries under the aegis of one polity, but none were able to bridge the interests of so many powerful nations. The problem is that their attempts began with bloodshed and ended in chaos.
Though it is not a perfect analogy for the formation of the European Union, Germany in the 19th century is perhaps the best example in modern history of a successful unification. Unlike Europe, Germany was the product of polities with common ethno-linguistic roots. Nonetheless, its composite parts were an assortment of competing mini-states whose sacrifices helped build a prosperous nation. German history could inform Europe's understanding of the true costs of unification. For its part, Berlin should bear in mind the lessons of unification as it is forging a true European Union, should it choose to do so.

Shared Legacies

More often than not, new political systems are rooted in the ashes of war. The European Union and Germany share this tradition. Theirs is a legacy of birth marked by conflict so severe that it destroyed the old system and gave way to unorthodox solutions previously unthinkable.
The European Union came from the trauma of World War I and World War II. This 30-year period brought what was then the most powerful group of nations in the history of the world to its knees, leaving behind a ruined, exhausted and divided Continent.
The Napoleonic Wars brought about modern Germany. By the end of the 18th century, Germany's predecessor, the Holy Roman Empire, was composed of nearly 200 quasi-independent states in an area that covered what is now Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and many others in Central and Northern Europe. This disunited band of bickering principalities, duchies and electorates was utterly incapable of standing up to the citizen armies unleashed after the French Revolution. The revolutionary armies eventually consolidated under the control of the general-emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, easily defeated the haphazard coalition of German forces and their allies and steamrolled through Europe before reaching Russia.
It took 22 years and six successive coalitions by all the major European powers to finally defeat the French armies. The Holy Roman Empire had been completely dissolved and the Napoleonic Empire, through its chief diplomat, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord, had encouraged a process whereby small German states would be incorporated into their larger neighbors to ease political transitions. By the early 19th century, only about 40 German entities remained.
The French Revolution was as instrumental for creating Germany as the two world wars were for creating modern Europe. The French Revolution created new ways of thinking about what it meant to be a nation-state. Years of bloodshed left behind a group of exhausted nations conscious of their own weakness as the world around them changed. However, a different kind of revolution was necessary to spur the creation of a united Europe. The prospect of economic gain would have to entice individual nations to integrate more closely. For Germany, that event was the Industrial Revolution; for Europe, it was the global economic boom of the 1980s and 1990s.
Throughout the 19th century, technological advances in manufacturing processes made manufacturers radically more productive. New transportation technologies, particularly the steam engine, enabled nations to become internally connected through rail and to reach more consumer markets. The Industrial Revolution began in England and eventually spread to the Continent.
But Germany remained politically fragmented, unable to join this revolution or embrace an industrialized economic model. Prior the Industrial Revolution, political fragmentation was only modestly restrictive; most of the Continent relied on agriculture, not industry. But the development of high-productivity manufacturing required large amounts of unevenly distributed mineral resources and free access to large amounts of consumers, conditions that put the various fragmented German mini-states at a serious disadvantage. Products manufactured in Prussia had to be inspected and taxed as many as a dozen times before reaching Wallonia, where coal and steel had to undergo the same ordeal in the opposite direction. This created huge additional costs for German industries and stunted the development of the German states. The resultant economic imbalance was one of the many catalysts for the German revolutions of 1848.
In the late 20th century, modern Europe believed it had to remove tariffs and the restrictions on capital movement if it were to keep up with the growing economic and political might of the United States and Japan. These two economic powers dwarfed even the greatest individual European nations, but as a whole, Europe remained the wealthiest part of the world. For Europe, like Germany in the 19th century, a free economic zone was the logical next step. 
At the behest of Prussia, a small number of German states formalized a customs union in 1834 that eventually reduced or otherwise abolished tariffs, created a single labor market and integrated capital markets. Starting in the 1840s, Germany's first rail links were laid across the members of the customs union, establishing an increasingly prosperous domestic market and bolstering Prussia's pre-eminence among German states. The union continued to expand over the years but always stopped short of becoming a monetary and banking union.
Prussia saw little interest in diluting the strength of its banking sector before guaranteeing its control over the fiscal and economic policies of the other members of the customs union. It is at this point that the unification of Germany and the unification of the European Union begin to diverge.
Unlike 19th century Germany, modern Europe pushed the boundaries of the trade union and has created a European Central Bank that administers the monetary policy of a steadily increasing number of member states. While nations were willing to relinquish control of their currency, tempted as they were by the promise of accumulating even greater wealth, they are not as willing to surrender sovereignty over their fiscal policy. Many see no reason to give Brussels control over their military or energy budgets, for example.
Moreover, the European Union also lacks an internal leader that is willing and able to act decisively. From the very beginning, Prussia shaped the unification of the German nation. It had gained some 500,000 subjects and 10,000 square kilometers (nearly 4,000 square miles) of land after the Napoleonic Wars and had the best land army in Europe. Like Prussia, modern Germany is the wealthiest and most powerful member of its respective trading bloc, yet it has continuously balked at assuming leadership of the European Union. In a telling anecdote, when financial markets were reeling from uncertainty over a string of bailouts, Poland's foreign minister famously said in 2012 that for the first time in history his country feared German inaction more than German action.

No 'Blood' or 'Iron'

Germany's reluctance to be Europe's leader is perfectly rational for Berlin. In fact, its reluctance highlights another key difference between Chancellor Angela Merkel's situation and that of her most illustrious predecessor, Otto von Bismarck. The original design of a united post-war Europe was foreign-made. A trade union in Europe served the strategic interest of the United States. While modern Germany has greatly benefited from the European Union (more than anyone, in fact) as a trade union, it is far from certain that a full fiscal and political union is in Berlin's interest. It is not even clear that it would solve the great problem in modern Europe: the current economic and social crisis.
The wealth of Prussia's customs union was not a means in itself for Prussia, although it greatly contributed to its strength. Prussia's national security was at stake. The Napoleonic Wars and the slow but steady expansion of the Austrian and Russian empires made it very clear to Prussia that only a political, economic and military union of German-speaking people would guarantee its security. 
Such calculations are nearly absent from German strategic thinking today. There are no security threats to the core of the European Union that could spur Germany into action. Even Russia has understood the lessons of the Soviet Union and, for now, appears content to focus on maintaining its own domestic stability while making only modest forays in Central Europe. Thus there is nothing driving Germany to push for further integration with the European Union.
The question then is whether Germany's imperative to preserve the trade union, on which much of its economic prosperity depends, will merit a stronger push from Berlin. The case study of Germany offers yet another cautionary tale regarding the true costs of the next step to unification.
In 1862, after being appointed Prussia's minister-president and foreign minister, Bismarck appeared in front of the parliament and delivered a historic speech asking lawmakers to approve a massive increase in Prussian military spending. Bismarck noted that the great problem of German unification would be solved only by "blood and iron." Bismarck clearly understood that the alignment of economic interests that had created the customs union had reached its limit and that the next phase in the creation of a wealthy and secure European state would have to involve coercion.
Bismarck turned out to be right, and modern Germany was born on two battlefields, 800 kilometers and four years apart. In 1866, the Prussian armies defeated Austria and its German allies at the Battle of Koniggratz, in the modern-day Czech Republic. The battle settled the Prussian-Austrian war and firmly excluded Vienna from its position as a contending head for the German states. It left a union with Prussia as the sole viable path for German security and prosperity. Bismarck had thus crushed all internal dissenters to a united Germany under Prussia's aegis. Notably, he did not forcefully incorporate them into Prussia's orbit even though he could have easily done so. Instead, he fabricated a foreign threat from a historical foe, Paris, to bring them into the fold.
In July 1870, Berlin coaxed Paris into an offensive action against Prussia after some creative diplomacy by Bismarck. The memories of the Napoleonic Wars prompted the last independent German states to rally under the Hohenzollern banner. Two months later, the superior Prussian army trounced the French at the Battle of Sedan and captured the French leader, Napoleon III. In 1871, in the palace of Versailles, Prussian King Wilhelm I was acclaimed as the kaiser of the new German Reich.
Today, France and Germany find themselves once again at the core of the European political system. Stratfor has often written that the fate of the European Union rests on the stability of the Franco-German alliance, the foundation on which more than six decades of European peace is based. As the crisis worsened, the differences between the French and German models have become more pronounced, and tensions have begun to rise accordingly.
Today it is unthinkable to imagine Merkel delivering a "blood and iron" speech at the European Parliament. However, building nations from several composite parts necessarily requires redistributing wealth and power, an approach that runs counter to the sovereignty of the constituent entities. At some point, nations must be coerced, though military coercion is by no means the only available option.
This is where the analogy between the European Union and 19th century Germany ends. It is increasingly unlikely that a true fiscal and political union in Europe can be achieved by aligning the interests of the constituent nations. However, there does not seem to be any pressure on Germany to force other nations into a more integrated union.
Many Europeans hope Germany's September elections will usher in a more assertive administration and bring about the end of the European crisis. These people would be well served to look at Germany's history to fully understand the cost of unification. 

jueves, 29 de agosto de 2013

Alemania ante la crisis y Europa...


Por Jürgen Habermas*

El Gobierno alemán puede cometer un error histórico si sigue defendiendo políticas de corto alcance que lo favorecen en casa en vez de enfrentarse a los problemas que han puesto a Europa en situación de emergencia

Con el título, tan significativo, de “Kein deutsches Europa!“ [“No queremos una Europa alemana”], Wolfgang Schäuble desmentía hace poco en un artículo publicado simultáneamente en diarios de Inglaterra, Francia, Polonia, Italia y España, que Alemania aspire a asumir el liderazgo político en la Unión Europea (Süddeutsche Zeitung 20/21 de julio de 2013).

Schäuble que, junto con la ministra de Trabajo, es el último europeo de corte germano-occidental que queda en el gabinete de Angela Merkel, habla desde el pleno convencimiento personal. Es cualquier cosa menos un revisionista que quiera anular la integración de Alemania en Europa y destruir así el fundamento de la estabilidad del orden de posguerra. Conoce el problema cuyo regreso debemos temer nosotros, los alemanes.

Tras la fundación del imperio en el año 1871, Alemania había adoptado una funesta posición semihegemónica en Europa, tal como expresa la famosa frase de Ludwig Dehio, demasiado débil para dominar el continente pero demasiado fuerte para integrarse . Y esto también contribuyó a allanar el camino hacia las catástrofes del siglo XX. La lograda unificación europea impidió, no solo a la Alemania dividida sino también a la Alemania reunificada, volver a caer en el antiguo dilema. Es evidente que la República Federal está interesada en que esto no cambie. Pero ¿no ha cambiado de hecho la situación? Wolfgang Schäuble reacciona ante un peligro actual. Él mismo es quien impone a la fuerza el testarudo rumbo de Angelika Merkel en Bruselas y quien palpa la grieta que podría resquebrajar el núcleo de Europa.

Es Wolfgang Schäuble quien impone a la fuerza el testarudo rumbo de Merkel en Bruselas y quien palpa la grieta que podría resquebrajar el núcleo de Europa

Él es quien tropieza con la resistencia de los países receptores en los círculos de los ministros de Hacienda de la comunidad monetaria europea cada vez que bloquea los intentos de introducir un cambio de política. El impedir una unión bancaria para la asunción comunitaria de los costes de la liquidación de los bancos malos es tan solo el ejemplo más reciente de ello. Schäuble no se aparta ni un milímetro de la norma de la canciller de no cargar a los contribuyentes alemanes con nada que rebase el alcance exacto de los créditos que requieran en cada caso los mercados financieros para el rescate del euro, y que siempre han recibido como consecuencia de una política de rescate indisimuladamente favorable a los inversores. Por supuesto, este rumbo seguido tan tenazmente no excluye un gesto de 100 millones en créditos para las clases medias que el tío rico berlinés toma de la caja fuerte del banco nacional para sacar del apuro a los primos de Atenas que se han quedado sin blanca.

La potencia líder que se niega a sí misma

Es un hecho que el gobierno de Merkel obliga a Francia y a los países del Sur a aceptar su controvertida agenda de crisis mientras que la política de adquisiciones del BCE brinda un respaldo no admitido. Pero al mismo tiempo, Alemania niega su responsabilidad en el marco de una Europa global por las consecuencias desastrosas que asume al poner en práctica ese papel considerado como algo enteramente normal - de política de poder. Solo hay que pensar en el exorbitante paro juvenil del sur de Europa como una de las consecuencias de una política de ahorro con cargo a los miembros más débiles de la sociedad. Visto de este modo, el mensaje nada de Europa alemana cobra también el sentido, bastante menos bonito, de que la República Federal se coloca en un segundo plano. Desde un punto de vista formal, el Consejo Europeo decide de forma unánime. Angelika (sic) Merkel solo puede perseguir abiertamente intereses nacionales, o lo que ella considera como tales, como uno de los 17 miembros integrantes. El Gobierno alemán saca ventaja, incluso una ventaja desproporcionada, de la preponderancia económica del país siempre y cuando sus socios no duden de la lealtad, carente de ambiciones políticas, de los alemanes hacia Europa.

Pero ¿cómo puede resultar creíble este gesto de humildad a la vista de una política que se aprovecha descaradamente de la propia preponderancia económica y demográfica? Cuando, por ejemplo, toca imponer normas de emisión de gases más estrictas para el nuevo rico que fanfarronea de sus berlinas de lujo y estas normas perjudican por supuesto, siempre en el marco del cambio energético a la industria automovilística alemana, la votación se retrasa, por intervención de la canciller, hasta que el grupo de presión está satisfecho o ya han pasado las elecciones al Bundestag [Parlamento]. El artículo de Schäuble responde, me parece a mí, a la irritación que este doble juego del Gobierno federal produce en los círculos de los jefes de Gobierno de los restantes países del euro.

El Gobierno alemán saca ventaja, incluso una ventaja desproporcionada,  siempre y cuando sus socios no duden de la lealtad de los alemanes hacia Europa

Un Gobierno federal cada vez más aislado trata de imponer frente a Francia y a los países en crisis una dura política de ahorro en nombre de imperativos de mercado que supuestamente no dejan otra alternativa. En contra de los hechos, da por sentado que todos los estados miembros de la Comunidad Monetaria Europea pueden decidir por sí mismos sobre sus respectivas políticas económicas y presupuestarias. Si es necesario deberán modernizar el Estado y la economía y aumentar su competitividad con ayuda de créditos del fondo de rescate, pero siempre por cuenta propia. Esta soberanía ficticia es cómoda para la República Federal porque ahorra al socio más fuerte tener en consideración los efectos negativos que pueden acarrear sus propias políticas a los socios más débiles. Por el contrario, Mario Draghi ya advertía hace un año que no es legítimo ni soportable desde un punto de vista económico que la política económica de países concretos entrañe riesgos que rebasen las propias fronteras y afecten a los restantes socios de la unión monetaria (Die Zeit 30 de agosto de 2012).

¿Ha caído Europa en una trampa sin salida?

Hay que repetirlo una y otra vez: las condiciones poco óptimas en las que la Comunidad Monetaria Europea opera hoy día se deben al error de construcción de una Unión Política que no es plena. Por eso la clave no está en cargar los problemas sobre los hombros de los países en crisis a través de la financiación crediticia. La imposición de políticas de ahorro no puede eliminar los desequilibrios económicos existentes dentro de la zona euro. Solo se puede esperar una equiparación de estas diferencias de nivel a medio plazo como resultado de una política fiscal, económica y social común o en estrecha sintonía recíproca. Y si no se quiere derivar por completo en una tecnocracia al seguir este camino, hay que preguntar a los ciudadanos de los países europeos cómo conciben el núcleo de una Europa democrática. Wolfgang Schäuble lo sabe. Lo dice también en entrevistas concedidas a la revista Spiegel, entrevistas que no tienen consecuencias por lo que respecta a su propia actuación política.

La política europea ha caído en una trampa que Claus Offe define con precisión: si no queremos abandonar la unión monetaria, resulta, por un lado necesario y por otro impopular, llevar a cabo una reforma institucional que necesita tiempo. Por eso los políticos que desean ser reelegidos van dejando el problema para más adelante. Este dilema afecta sobre todo al Gobierno alemán, pues hace mucho que asumió con sus actos responsabilidades en el marco de una Europa global. Además, es el único que puede plantear una iniciativa prometedora para dar un paso hacia adelante, debiendo ganarse para ello a Francia. No se trata de bagatelas, sino de un proyecto en el que los hombres de Estado europeos más destacados llevan invirtiendo sus mejores energías desde hace más de medio siglo.

Pero, por otro lado, ¿qué significa realmente impopular ? Si una solución política es razonable, no debe suponer el menor problema plantearla al electorado de una democracia. ¿Y cuándo hacerlo si no es antes de unas elecciones al Bundestag? Cualquier otra opción supone un encubrimiento tutelar. Infravalorar y exigir demasiado poco a los electores constituye siempre un error. Creo que será un fracaso histórico de las élites políticas de Alemania el seguir cerrando los ojos y hacer como si el business as usual, es decir, el forcejeo corto de miras sobre la letra pequeña a puerta cerrada, fuera la respuesta a la situación del momento.

En lugar de eso, deberían hablar claramente a sus ciudadanos, que se sienten inquietos y que jamás se ven confrontados como electores con cuestiones europeas de peso. Deberían pasar a la ofensiva y dirigir un debate, que implica una polarización inevitable, sobre alternativas que siempre tienen un coste. Tampoco deberían callar por más tiempo los negativos efectos redistributivos que deberán asumir a medio y corto plazo los países donadores como resultado de la única solución constructiva de la crisis, aunque ello redundará en su propio interés a largo plazo.

Vacío normativo

Conocemos la respuesta de Angela Merkel: tranquilo quehacer dilatorio. Su persona pública parece carecer de todo núcleo normativo. Desde la irrupción de la crisis griega en mayo de 2010 y el posterior fracaso en las elecciones al Parlamento de la región de Renania del Norte-Westfalia, somete cada uno de sus meditados pasos al oportunismo de la conservación del poder. Desde entonces, la astuta canciller sale adelante con una lógica clara, pero sin unos principios definidos y por segunda vez aleja cualquier tema controvertido de las elecciones al Bundestag, por no hablar de la política europea, minuciosamente aislada. Puede definir la agenda porque, si la oposición se apresura con el tema europeo, de gran carga emocional, es de temer que acabe siendo machacada con la maza de la "unión de la deuda". Y además, por obra de aquellos que solo podrían decir lo mismo si realmente llegaran a decir algo. Europa se encuentra en situación de emergencia y el poder político está en manos de quien decide qué temas pueden llegar a la opinión pública. Alemania no baila, sino que dormita sobre el volcán.

Europa se encuentra en situación de emergencia y el poder político está en manos de quien decide qué temas pueden llegar a la opinión pública

¿Fracaso de las élites? Todo país democrático tiene los políticos que se merece. Y esperar de los políticos que han sido votados un comportamiento que vaya más allá de la rutina resulta un tanto peculiar. Me alegro de vivir desde 1945 en un país que no necesita héroes. Tampoco creo en el dicho de que los individuos hacen la historia, al menos no por lo general. Solo constato que existen situaciones extraordinarias en las que la capacidad perceptiva y la fantasía, el valor y la disposición a asumir responsabilidades de los individuos que actúan marcan la diferencia en el curso de los acontecimientos.

(*) Filósofo alemán, ganador del Premio Príncipe de Asturias de Ciencias Sociales 2003. La editorial Suhrkamp acaba de publicar el último volumen de sus Kleinen Politischen Schriften (Breves Escritos Políticos), Im Sog der Technokratie (Arrastrados por la tecnocracia). En “Bitácora” de Uruguay.


Foto: Rodrigo Abn                  


En nota editorial anterior nos esforzábamos por poner de relieve dos características de los acontecimientos en marcha en el mundo islámico que nos parecen decisivas para la comprensión de la cada vez más intensa conflictividad que allí se vive.

Por un lado es necesario dejar algo de lado la tendencia a quedarse en una aproximación nacional o regional de los conflictos -(no es que haya “una guerra civil” en Siria y que, por otro lado y de manera totalmente independiente, Egipto se aproxime a enfrentar una)-: en realidad todo apunta a señalar que, en el mundo islámico, hay una conflictividad que, esquemáticamente, podríamos llamar generalizada. De esta conflictividad generalizada quedan fuera, como sabemos, muy pocos actores del mundo islámico.

Por otro lado, señalábamos, también, que era importante concluir que en un  alto porcentaje, esa conflictividad que sacude al Islam proviene esencialmente de los actores internos del espacio islámico. Sin dejar de recordar que --(si nos permitimos ser esquemáticos)--, desde la irrupción de los árabes de la península arábiga en el siglo VII y la primera mitad del VIII hasta hoy, el Occidente y el Islam han estado estrechamente vinculados tanto en c0nflictos como en empresas comunes, ello no significa que sigamos pensando, como una buena parte de la prensa occidental refleja, que los conflictos actuales que viven los países islámicos tienen una relación particularmente estrecha con la política de Occidente.

Cualquiera de las dos cuestiones planteadas resultan altamente complejas de ser analizadas en un simple abordaje editorial. Pero, si nos conformamos con un abordaje de estas temáticas que se limite a plantear algunas ideas meramente plausibles, quizás sea factible avanzar un tanto en la comprensión de lo que está sucediendo.

Con respecto a la primera característica que mencionáramos; es decir, el carácter claramente supranacional y tendencialmente global de los conflictos en curso, resulta difícil no advertir que esto es el resultado de una serie de cambios significativos que se han ido procesando en las últimas décadas en el mundo islámico.

A.- El más obvio es el auge del fundamentalismo islámico que, aunque sus raíces pueden rastrearse a inicios del siglo XX en Egipto -(1928)-, evidentemente ha estallado en una nueva galaxia de grupos y grupúsculos que se muestran cada más agresivos. Estos grupos fundamentalistas son los que designan abiertamente a Occidente -(y a Israel)- como el “enemigo principal” pero, en los hechos, cuando uno evalúa su política y accionar militar es obvio que  están más activos en su agenda “doméstica” -(es decir, propiamente referida al mundo islámico)- que en sus ataques a Occidente. Desde luego que todos conocemos los ataques a los países occidentales y a Israel: sin embargo son infinitamente más los muertos argelinos o afganos -(para sólo nombrar 2 conflictos)- en manos del fundamentalismo  islámico que los muertos occidentales. O sea que, dejando de lado las apariencias, el fundamentalismo hace más de una década que está combatiendo poblaciones, sociedades, regímenes y gobiernos islámicos de manera mucho más directa que al Occidente.

B.- El segundo cambio significativo que no es posible ignorar es que, en el seno del mundo islámico, se ha ido generando un número importante de países con capacidades políticas y militares de “meso-potencias” que les permiten aspirar a jugar papeles hegemónicos regionales de importancia. A mediados del siglo pasado quien fuese interrogado sobre la existencia de un país musulmán “poderoso” en esa región tenía un solo nombre a mano: Egipto. Hoy, en cambio, Egipto ha perdido buena parte de su importancia y sufre los efectos de las ambiciones crecientes de Turquía, Irán, Arabia Saudí, Indonesia, Sudán, Pakistán, e Irak se sumaría a la lista de no haber sufrido dos invasiones sucesivas.

En este contexto, y seguramente utilizando tanto los “clivages” más tradicionales que dividen al Islam -(sunitas, chiítas, -(a su vez profusamente divididos internamente entre ismailíes, zaidíes, alauitas, etc.)-, ibadíes o sufistas)-, como los diversos y marcados sentimientos nacionalistas que también enfrentan entre sí a muchos países musulmanes, es evidente que el ascenso de estos países “candidatos a potencias” ha desatado estas luchas de alta intensidad que destrozan al mundo musulmán. Es más, esto no es todo. Conviene recordar que, por debajo de estas múltiples líneas divisorias, están, además, subyacentes diferencias étnicas importantes que separan a los árabes, de los iraníes, y a estas dos últimas etnias, de las diversas versiones del mundo turcomano que se extiende desde Turquía hasta el corazón del Asia Central.

Si hacemos caso omiso de las guerras mundiales del siglo XX, en realidad en la historia de Occidente habría que remontarse al siglo XVI y XVII y a las Guerras de Religión, para encontrar una situación de conflictividad generalizada parecida en el mundo cristiano.

C.- Una peculiar complejidad “extra” de este gran conflicto, que compromete a cientos de millones de personas -(y que de alguna manera invalida el paralelismo con las Guerras de Religión que acabamos de evocar)- radica, además, en que por encima de los “clivages” tradicionales intra-religiosos del Islam, de las diferencias étnicas y de las divisiones basadas en las retóricas nacionalistas hay todavía una última línea de fractura más que opera claramente en los enfrentamientos a los que estamos asistiendo.

En los siglos XVI y XVII, la Modernidad recién comenzaba a ponerse en marcha, sabemos que la emergencia del protestantismo tiene directa relación con su desarrollo y que, en buena medida, recién después de la institucionalización de la Reforma, la Modernidad occidental se afirmará de manera irreversible. Pero, en todo caso, en aquella época, y en el espacio euro-americano, latensión imaginable entre la “tradición” y la “modernidad” era algo todavía al alcance de la comprensión directa y empírica de los actores políticos de la época: rápidamente el empuje de “la modernidad” hizo previsible su triunfo sobre “la tradición”. Es más, el siglo XVIII y la Ilustración, se darán como tarea histórica -(desmesurada pero)- explícita, “terminar” con la “tradición”.

En el caso que nos ocupa, en cambio, es casi evidente que hay algo que ya no es “una tensión” sino que es una descomunal contradicción social entre “tradición” y “modernidad”, contradicción cuya eventual resolución abrupta puede adquirir características de cataclismo.

No es posible no advertir que el proceso de globalización, que por lo menos desde principios del siglo XIX comenzó a “trabajar” culturalmente de manera directa al mundo islámico, ha creado en este espacio cultural, élites y algunos sectores de población claramente “modernos” que, cada día que pasa, están culturalmente más lejos de los sectores “tradicionales” de las propias sociedades islámicas. El gobierno de Irán está controlando el átomo pero continúa lapidando mujeres y amputando manos de ladrones. Bachar el Assad, que probablemente, en el día de ayer, haya utilizado la aviación para lanzar gas sarín contra sus detractores, pertenece a la secta alauita del chiísmo que tiene, como una de sus principales características teológicas, la creencia de que las mujeres no tienen alma.

Quizás estos ejemplos puedan parecer banales y meramente efectistas porque todos sabemos que, en el ámbito de la cultura, toda combinación termina por ser aceptable -(¡como hubiésemos podido imaginar que Hitler proviniese del país de Kant y Stalin de la cultura de Tolstoi!)-. Pero en este punto lo que aquí interesa no es su dimensión moral; lo que es significativo es la potencial conflictividad política de una situación sociológica que ha generado la coexistencia de una “cofradía” como los Hermanos Musulmanes, -(que manifiestamente mora en la Edad Media porque tiene su base social en un campesinado medioeval)- y las reivindicaciones democráticas sinceras de una clase media urbana de El Cairo o Alejandría que entiende necesario vivir, manifiestamente, en una vida “moderna”. Para no entrar en la consideración de las ”soluciones culturales” de las élites saudíes o qataríes que viven manifiesta y públicamente una cultura con gestos medioevales y, privadamente, una cotidianeidad acentuadamente moderna. Es más, en el caso de Qatar, como en el de otros países del Golfo, esta “esquizofrenia histórica” ha generado productos empresariales y productivos sorprendentes.

D.-  Quizás como corolario de esta nota corresponde esbozar una última argumentación que parece ser capaz de proporcionarnos una conclusión, sino completa, al menos pertinente. Si aceptamos que, efectivamente, el mundo islámico, por distintas razones que no podemos explicitar cuidadosamente aquí, está aquejado de una suerte de “dualismo” radical en sus distintos procesos de desarrollo, “dualismo” que ha hecho coexistir en regiones, ciudades, países, sectores sociales, etc. procesos tendencialmente cada vez más modernos con pautas culturales absolutamente tradicionales y prácticamente “congeladas” en el tiempo, esta contradicción debería poder identificarse en alguna característica general presente en todo este convulsionado espacio islámico.

Una pista que puede ser pertinente para explicar ese hipotético “dualismo” que se hace presente por doquier es lo que podríamos llamar el síndrome de “la secularización fracasada”. Esa parece ser la característica política generalizada de la compleja circunstancia histórica en la que se encuentra envuelto  el mundo islámico.

Una consideración general de los elementos que hemos expuesto en estas dos últimas notas editoriales parece indicar que esta idea de “la secularización fracasada” podría ser capaz de dar cuenta, en primer lugar, de ese “dualismo” socio-cultural que hemos admitido como generalizado en todo el mundo islámico. Más ambiciosamente, podría adelantarse también en el camino de sostener que ese fracaso del proceso de secularización que aqueja a en el área cultural islámica, sea un elemento histórico que esté trabando, a su vez, la resolución de una amplia gama de conflictos como son los sectarismos religiosos internos al Islam, las tensiones nacionalistas y regionales o el proceso de hibridación de las distintas etnicidades en pugna.

En última instancia si la modernidad occidental ha podido avanzar hacia una relativa universalización cultural ello se debe al hecho de que sus estados nacionales laicos pudieron desembarazarse de muchos particularismos religiosos, étnicos, culturales o regionales.  Sin esa herramienta, los estados nacionales laicos -(por cierto hoy ya comprometidos en procesos de articulación supranacionales)- el sostenido proceso de globalización de los últimos siglos no hubiese sido posible de desarrollarse desde el Occidente.

En la evolución política de los países del Islam durante el último siglo, no es difícil rastrear procesos históricos que podrían, debidamente estudiados, ser identificados como elementos que obturan un cada vez más necesario tránsito hacia una modernidad secular porque, sin ese tránsito, el mundo islámico parece condenado a la conflictividad generalizada de las últimas décadas.  


martes, 27 de agosto de 2013

Nueve Terrazas

Nueve terrazas (à Tavira, Portugal)
Photo Rodrigo Bonilla Hastings, 2013.                   
 Du Blog “Cuadernito”
Távira, Portugal

Syria: Obama´s Bluff

Obama's Bluff

August 26, 2013.

By George Friedman

Images of multiple dead bodies emerged from Syria last week. It was asserted that poison gas killed the victims, who according to some numbered in the hundreds. Others claimed the photos were faked while others said the rebels were at fault. The dominant view, however, maintains that the al Assad regime carried out the attack.
The United States has so far avoided involvement in Syria's civil war. This is not to say Washington has any love for the al Assad regime. Damascus' close ties to Iran and Russia give the United States reason to be hostile toward Syria, and Washington participated in the campaign to force Syrian troops out of Lebanon. Still, the United States has learned to be concerned not just with unfriendly regimes, but also with what could follow such regimes. Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya have driven home the principle that deposing one regime means living with an imperfect successor. In those cases, changing the regime wound up rapidly entangling the United States in civil wars, the outcomes of which have not been worth the price. In the case of Syria, the insurgents are Sunni Muslims whose best-organized factions have ties to al Qaeda.
Still, as frequently happens, many in the United States and Europe are appalled at the horrors of the civil war, some of whom have called on the United States to do something. The United States has been reluctant to heed these calls. As mentioned, Washington does not have a direct interest in the outcome, since all possible outcomes are bad from its perspective. Moreover, the people who are most emphatic that something be done to stop the killings will be the first to condemn the United States when its starts killing people to stop the killings. People would die in any such intervention, since there are simply no clean ways to end a civil war.

Obama's Red Lines

U.S. President Barack Obama therefore adopted an extremely cautious strategy. He said that the United States would not get directly involved in Syria unless the al Assad regime used chemical weapons, stating with a high degree of confidence that he would not have to intervene. After all, Syrian President Bashar al Assad has now survived two years of civil war, and he is far from defeated. The one thing that could defeat him is foreign intervention, particularly by the United States. It was therefore assumed he wouldn't do the one thing Obama said would trigger U.S. action. 
Al Assad is a ruthless man: He would not hesitate to use chemical weapons if he had to. He is also a very rational man: He would use chemical weapons only if that were his sole option. At the moment, it is difficult to see what desperate situation would have caused him to use chemical weapons and risk the worst. His opponents are equally ruthless, and we can imagine them using chemical weapons to force the United States to intervene and depose al Assad. But their ability to access chemical weapons is unclear, and if found out, the maneuver could cost them all Western support. It is possible that lower-ranking officers in al Assad's military used chemical weapons without his knowledge and perhaps against his wishes. It is possible that the casualties were far less than claimed. And it is possible that some of the pictures were faked.
All of these things are possible, but we simply don't know which is true. More important is that major governments, including the British and French, are claiming knowledge that al Assad carried out the attack. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made a speech Aug. 26 clearly building the case for a military response, and referring to the regime attack as "undeniable" and the U.S. assessment so far as "grounded in facts." Al Assad meanwhile has agreed to allow U.N. inspectors to examine the evidence onsite. In the end, those who oppose al Assad will claim his supporters concealed his guilt, and the insurgents will say the same thing if they are blamed or if the inspectors determine there is no conclusive evidence of attacks.
The truth here has been politicized, and whoever claims to have found the truth, whatever it actually is, will be charged with lying. Nevertheless, the dominant emerging story is that al Assad carried out the attack, killing hundreds of men, women and children and crossing the red line Obama set with impunity. The U.S. president is backed into a corner. 
The United States has chosen to take the matter to the United Nations. Obama will make an effort to show he is acting with U.N. support. But he knows he won't get U.N. support. The Russians, allies of al Assad and opponents of U.N.-based military interventions, will veto any proposed intervention. The Chinese -- who are not close to al Assad, but also oppose the U.N.-sanctioned interventions -- will probably join them. Regardless of whether the charges against al Assad are true, the Russians will dispute them and veto any action. Going to the United Nations therefore only buys time. Interestingly, the United States declared on Sunday that it is too late for Syria to authorize inspections. Dismissing that possibility makes the United States look tough, and actually creates a situation where it has to be tough.

Consequences in Syria and Beyond

This is no longer simply about Syria. The United States has stated a condition that commits it to an intervention. If it does not act when there is a clear violation of the condition, Obama increases the chance of war with other countries like North Korea and Iran. One of the tools the United States can use to shape the behavior of countries like these without going to war is stating conditions that will cause intervention, allowing the other side to avoid crossing the line. If these countries come to believe that the United States is actually bluffing, then the possibility of miscalculation soars. Washington could issue a red line whose violation it could not tolerate, like a North Korean nuclear-armed missile, but the other side could decide this was just another Syria and cross that line. Washington would have to attack, an attack that might not have been necessary had it not had its Syria bluff called.
There are also the Russian and Iranian questions. Both have invested a great deal in supporting al Assad. They might both retaliate were someone to attack the Syrian regime. There are already rumors in Beirut that Iran has told Hezbollah to begin taking Americans hostage if the United States attacks Syria. Russia meanwhile has shown in the Snowden affair what Obama clearly regards as a hostile intent. If he strikes, he thus must prepare for Russian counters. If he doesn't strike, he must assume the Russians and Iranians will read this as weakness.
Syria was not an issue that affected the U.S. national interest until Obama declared a red line. It escalated in importance at that point not because Syria is critical to the United States, but because the credibility of its stated limits are of vital importance. Obama's problem is that the majority of the American people oppose military intervention, Congress is not fully behind an intervention and those now rooting the United States on are not bearing the bulk of the military burden -- nor will they bear the criticism that will follow the inevitable civilian casualties, accidents and misdeeds that are part of war regardless of the purity of the intent. 
The question therefore becomes what the United States and the new coalition of the willing will do if the red line has been crossed. The fantasy is that a series of airstrikes, destroying only chemical weapons, will be so perfectly executed that no one will be killed except those who deserve to die. But it is hard to distinguish a man's soul from 10,000 feet. There will be deaths, and the United States will be blamed for them.
The military dimension is hard to define because the mission is unclear. Logically, the goal should be the destruction of the chemical weapons and their deployment systems. This is reasonable, but the problem is determining the locations where all of the chemicals are stored. I would assume that most are underground, which poses a huge intelligence problem. If we assume that perfect intelligence is available and that decision-makers trust this intelligence, hitting buried targets is quite difficult. There is talk of a clean cruise missile strike. But it is not clear whether these carry enough explosives to penetrate even minimally hardened targets. Aircraft carry more substantial munitions, and it is possible for strategic bombers to stand off and strike the targets. 
Even so, battle damage assessments are hard. How do you know that you have destroyed the chemicals -- that they were actually there and you destroyed the facility containing them? Moreover, there are lots of facilities and many will be close to civilian targets and many munitions will go astray. The attacks could prove deadlier than the chemicals did. And finally, attacking means al Assad loses all incentive to hold back on using chemical weapons. If he is paying the price of using them, he may as well use them. The gloves will come off on both sides as al Assad seeks to use his chemical weapons before they are destroyed.
A war on chemical weapons has a built-in insanity to it. The problem is not chemical weapons, which probably can't be eradicated from the air. The problem under the definition of this war would be the existence of a regime that uses chemical weapons. It is hard to imagine how an attack on chemical weapons can avoid an attack on the regime -- and regimes are not destroyed from the air. Doing so requires troops. Moreover, regimes that are destroyed must be replaced, and one cannot assume that the regime that succeeds al Assad will be grateful to those who deposed him. One must only recall the Shia in Iraq who celebrated Saddam's fall and then armed to fight the Americans.
Arming the insurgents would keep an air campaign off the table, and so appears to be lower risk. The problem is that Obama has already said he would arm the rebels, so announcing this as his response would still allow al Assad to avoid the consequences of crossing the red line. Arming the rebels also increases the chances of empowering the jihadists in Syria.
When Obama proclaimed his red line on Syria and chemical weapons, he assumed the issue would not come up. He made a gesture to those in his administration who believe that the United States has a moral obligation to put an end to brutality. He also made a gesture to those who don't want to go to war again. It was one of those smart moves that can blow up in a president's face when it turns out his assumption was wrong. Whether al Assad did launch the attacks, whether the insurgents did, or whether someone faked them doesn't matter. Unless Obama can get overwhelming, indisputable proof that al Assad did not -- and that isn't going to happen -- Obama will either have to act on the red line principle or be shown to be one who bluffs. The incredible complexity of intervening in a civil war without becoming bogged down makes the process even more baffling.
Obama now faces the second time in his presidency when war was an option. The first was Libya. The tyrant is now dead, and what followed is not pretty. And Libya was easy compared to Syria. Now, the president must intervene to maintain his credibility. But there is no political support in the United States for intervention. He must take military action, but not one that would cause the United States to appear brutish. He must depose al Assad, but not replace him with his opponents. He never thought al Assad would be so reckless. Despite whether al Assad actually was, the consensus is that he was. That's the hand the president has to play, so it's hard to see how he avoids military action and retains credibility. It is also hard to see how he takes military action without a political revolt against him if it goes wrong, which it usually does.

lunes, 26 de agosto de 2013

La Crise politique continue à Tunis

Dix mille personnes, selon les chiffres communiqués par la police, se sont retrouvées face à l'Assemblée constituante à Tunis, le 24 août.

A Tunis, l'opposition réclame la démission du gouvernement.

Le Monde.fr avec AFP | 25.08.2013 

Dix mille personnes, selon les chiffres communiqués par la police, se sont retrouvées samedi 24 août au soir à Tunis face à l'Assemblée constituante pour réclamer la démission du gouvernement dominé par les islamistes d'Ennahda. La manifestation – censée lancer une série d'actions appelée "semaine du départ" – n'a pas mobilisé autant que les deux grands rassemblements des 6 et 13 août, pour lesquels l'opposition avait fait état de plus de cent cinquante mille participants.

Le Front de salut national (FSN), coalition hétéroclite allant de l'extrême gauche au centre-droit, a prévu de multiplier les actions pacifiques à travers le pays tout au long de la semaine. "Il faut faire chuter ce gouvernement de la honte", a déclaré devant la foule le député Mongi Rahoui, dénonçant "les assassinats politiques, le terrorisme, le harcèlement des militants politiques et l'appauvrissement du peuple". 
La crise politique déclenchée le 25 juillet par l'assassinat du député Mohamed Brahmi, attribué à la mouvance djihadiste, a poussé l'assemblée chargée d'élaborer la nouvelle Constitution à suspendre ses travaux. Le président d'Ennahda, Rached Ghannouchi, a engagé des consultations avec la grande centrale syndicale, l'UGTT (Union générale des travailleurs tunisiens), pour  négocier avec l'opposition laïque afin de trouver une sortie de crise.

Les partis d'opposition ont rejeté jusqu'à présent la mise en place d'un gouvernement de transition – dont le président d'Ennahda exige qu'il soit dirigé par un membre de son parti – chargé de conduire le pays à de nouvelles élections. Ils estiment que le régime a échoué sur le plan sécuritaire face à l'essor de la mouvance djihadiste, mais aussi dans le domaine économique, alors que les revendications sociales étaient au cœur de la révolution de janvier 2011.

Même si la Constituante n'est toujours pas parvenue, après vingt-deux mois de travail et deux ans et demi après la révolution de 2011, à rédiger une loi fondamentale consensuelle, les islamistes considèrent avoir la légitimité pour diriger le pays depuis l'élection de cette Assemblée. Plusieurs dirigeants d'Ennahda ont même avancé que les revendications de l'opposition s'apparentaient à une tentative "de coup d'Etat" modelée sur le renversement par l'armée égyptienne du président islamiste Mohamed Morsi.

Le précédent gouvernement dirigé par Ennahda était tombé après le meurtre de l'opposant Chokri Belaïd en février.

sábado, 24 de agosto de 2013

China Demographic Problem

In China, an Unprecedented Demographic Problem Takes Shape



Chinese society is on the verge of a structural transformation even more profound than the long and painful project of economic rebalancing, which the Communist Party is anxiously beginning to undertake. China's population is aging more rapidly than it is getting rich, giving rise to a great demographic imbalance with important implications for the Party's efforts to transform the Chinese economy and preserve its own power in the coming decade.


Two reports in Chinese media highlight different aspects of China's unfolding demographic crunch. The Ministry of Education reported Aug. 21 that more than 13,600 primary schools closed nationwide in 2012. The ministry looked to China's dramatically shifting demographic profile to explain the widespread closures, noting that between 2011 and 2012 alone the number of elementary-aged students fell from nearly 200 million to 145 million. It also confirmed that between 2002 and 2012, the number of students enrolled in primary schools dropped by nearly 20 percent. The ministry's report comes one day after an article in People's Daily, the government mouthpiece newspaper, warned of China's impending social security crisis as the number of elderly is expected to rise from 194 million in 2012 to 300 million by 2025.

The Communist Party is already considering measures to counter, or at least limit the short-term impact of, demographic changes in Chinese society. On one hand, the Party continues to flirt with relaxing the one-child policy in an effort to boost fertility rates, most recently with a potential pilot program in Shanghai that would allow only-child couples to have another child. On the other hand, the government has proposed raising the national retirement age from 55 to 60 for women and from 60 to 65 for men. If implemented, this would bring China's retirement policy more in line with international norms and delay some of the financial and other social pressures created by the ballooning number of retirees dependent on government pensions and the care of their children.

But even sweeping adjustments to the one-child policy or the national retirement age would create only temporary and partial buffers to the problem of demographic change. It is no longer clear that the one-child policy has any appreciable impact on population growth in China. China's low fertility rate (1.4 children per mother, compared with an average of 1.7 in developed countries and 2.0 in the United States) is at least as much a reflection of urban couples' struggles to cope with the rapidly rising cost of living and education in many Chinese cities as it is of draconian enforcement of the policy.

Likewise, lifting the retirement age by five years will only partly delay the inevitable, and in the meantime it will meet stiff opposition from an important constituency of professionals, including many civil servants. In adjusting the retirement age, the government also risks aggravating an employment crisis among the rapidly growing population of unemployed college graduates in cities, many of whom are looking to filter into the employment ladder as elderly workers exit the workforce. In this context, the Communist Party must weigh policy adjustments carefully -- any change it makes in one area is likely to create new tensions elsewhere in the workforce.

The crux of China's demographic challenge lies in the fact that unlike Japan, South Korea, the United States and Western European countries, China will grow old before the majority of its population is anywhere near middle-income status, let alone rich. This is historically unprecedented, and its implications are made all the more unpredictable by its coinciding with the Chinese economy's forced shift away from an economic model grounded in the exploitation of inexhaustibly cheap labor toward one in which young Chinese will be expected to sustain the country's economic life as workers and as consumers. A temporary reprieve from the demographic crisis will be difficult but possible with reform, but a long-term solution is far out of reach.

sábado, 17 de agosto de 2013



July 31, 2013 | 0902 GMT
By Robert D. Kaplan

In 1968, Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington published Political Order in Changing Societies. Forty-five years later, the book remains without question the greatest guide to today's current events. Forget the libraries of books on globalization, Political Order reigns supreme: arguably the most incisive, albeit impolite, work produced by a political scientist in the 20th century. If you want to understand the Arab Spring, the economic and social transition in China, or much else, ignore newspaper opinion pages and read Huntington.
The very first sentences of Political Order have elicited anger from Washington policy elites for decades now -- precisely because they are so undeniable. "The most important political distinction among countries," Huntington writes, "concerns not their form of government but their degree of government." In other words, strong democracies and strong dictatorships have more in common than strong democracies and weak democracies. Thus, the United States always had more in common with the Soviet Union than with any fragile, tottering democracy in the Third World. This, in turn, is because order usually comes before freedom -- for without a reasonable degree of administrative order, freedom can have little value. Huntington quotes the mid-20th century American journalist, Walter Lippmann: "There is no greater necessity for men who live in communities than that they be governed, self-governed if possible, well-governed if they are fortunate, but in any event, governed."
Institutions, therefore, are more important than democracy. Indeed, Huntington, who died in 2008, asserts that America has little to teach a tumultuous world in transition because Americans are compromised by their own "happy history." Americans assume a "unity of goodness": that all good things like democracy, economic development, social justice and so on go together. But for many places with different historical experiences based on different geographies and circumstances that isn't always the case. Americans, he goes on, essentially imported their political institutions from 17th century England, and so the drama throughout American history was usually how to limit government -- how to make it less oppressive. But many countries in the developing world are saddled either with few institutions or illegitimate ones at that: so that they have to build an administrative order from scratch. Quite a few of the countries affected by the Arab Spring are in this category. So American advice is more dubious than supposed, because America's experience is the opposite of the rest of the world.
Huntington is rightly obsessed with the need for institutions. For the more complex a society is, the more that institutions are required. The so-called public interest is really the interest in institutions. In modern states, loyalty is to institutions. To wit, Americans voluntarily pay taxes to the Internal Revenue Service and lose respect for those who are exposed as tax cheaters.
For without institutions like a judiciary, what and who is there to determine what exactly is right and wrong, and to enforce such distinctions? Societies in the Middle East and China today reflect societies that have reached levels of complexity where their current institutions no longer suffice and must be replaced by different or improved ones. The Arab Spring and the intense political infighting in China are, in truth, institutional crises. The issue is not democracy per se, because weak democracies can spawn ineffective institutional orders. What individual Arabs and Chinese really want is justice. And justice is ultimately the fruit of enlightened administration.
How do you know if a society has effective institutions? Huntington writes that one way is to see how good their militaries are. Because societies that have made war well -- Sparta, Rome, Great Britain, America -- have also been well-governed. For effective war-making requires deep organizations, which, in turn, requires trust and predictability. The ability to fight in large numbers is by itself a sign of civilization. Arab states whose regimes have fallen -- Egypt, Libya, Syria -- never had very good state armies. But sub-state armies in the Middle East -- Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Mehdi Army in Iraq, the various rebel groups in Syria and militias in Libya -- have often fought impressively. Huntington might postulate that this is an indication of new political formations that will eventually replace post-colonial states.
Huntington implies that today's instability -- the riotous formation of new institutional orders -- is caused by urbanization and enlightenment. As societies become more urbanized, people come into close contact with strangers beyond their family groups, requiring the intense organization of police forces, sewage, street lighting, traffic and so forth. The main drama of the Middle East and China over the past half-century, remember, has been urbanization, which has affected religion, morals and much else. State autocrats have simply been unable to keep up with dynamic social change.
Huntington is full of uncomfortable, counterintuitive insights. He writes that large numbers of illiterate people in a democracy such as India's can actually be stabilizing, since illiterates have relatively few demands; but as literacy increase, voters become more demanding, and their participation in democratic groupings like labor unions goes up, leading to instability. An India of more and more literate voters may experience more unrest.
As for corruption, rather than something to be reviled, it can be a sign of modernization, in which new sources of wealth and power are being created even as institutions cannot keep up. Corruption can also be a replacement for revolution. "He who corrupts a system's police officers is more likely to identify with the system than he who storms the system's police stations."
In Huntington's minds, monarchies, rather than reactionary, can often be more dedicated to real reform than modernizing dictatorships. For the monarch has historical legitimacy, even as he feels the need to prove himself through good works; while the secular dictator sees himself as the vanquisher of colonialism, and thus entitled to the spoils of power. Huntington thus helps a little to explain why monarchs such as those in Morocco, Jordan and Oman have been more humane than dictators such as those in Libya, Syria and Iraq.
As for military dictatorships, Huntington adds several twists. He writes, "In the world of oligarchy, the soldier is a radical; in the middle-class world he is a participant and arbiter; as the mass society looms on the horizon he becomes the conservative guardian of the existing order. Thus, paradoxically but understandably," he goes on, "the more backward a society is, the more progressive the role of its military..." And so he explains why Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa underwent a plethora of military coups during the middle decades of the Cold War: The officer corps often represented the most enlightened branch of society at the time. Americans see the military as conservative only because of our own particular stage of development as a mass society.
The logic behind much of Huntington's narrative is that the creation of order -- not the mere holding of elections -- is progressive. Only once order is established can popular pressure be constructively asserted to make such order less coercive and more institutionally subtle. Precisely because we inhabit an era of immense social change, there will be continual political upheaval, as human populations seek to live under more receptive institutional orders. To better navigate the ensuing crises, American leaders would do well to read Huntington, so as to nuance their often stuffy lectures to foreigners about how to reform.