'The Arab Winter,' by Noah Feldman: An Excerpt

Source: The New York Times - View Original Article
Published: May 13, 2020
Category:
Bias Rating:

88% Liberal


Bias Score Calculation:


Policies:

Nationalism

Sentiments

95% "Their successes and failures will be, and must be, their own.""
93% "To the contrary, the political action undertaken in the course of the Arab spring carried and still carries profound meaning.""
91% "I am suggesting that the events of the Arab spring and winter warrant a very different framework, one defined by collective political action that ..."
90% "And although imperial powers, especially European ones, undoubtedly played an important part in shaping ethnic, denominational, and tribal divisions in Arabic-speaking countries, those historical ..."
89% "According to a discourse shared by many politicians, activists, and academics, the story of modern politics in the Arabic-speaking world has been framed largely ..."
88% "It sustained a functioning state for more than two years, attracting external adherents and achieving some measures of effective governance.""
87% "These words, chanted rhythmically all over the Arabic-speaking world beginning in January 2011, promised a transformation in the history of the Middle East.""

We have listed the top 10 sentiments. More sentiments do exist. Please review the full article for more information.



*Our bias meter rating uses data science including sentiment analysis, machine learning and our proprietary algorithm for determining biases in news articles. The rating is an independent analysis and is not affiliated nor sponsored by the news source or any other organization

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Contributing sentiments towards policy:

95% : After the fall of the presidential regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, parties associated with the Muslim Brotherhood won pluralities or majorities in both countries.
95% : Their successes and failures will be, and must be, their own.
93% : To the contrary, the political action undertaken in the course of the Arab spring carried and still carries profound meaning.
91% : I am suggesting that the events of the Arab spring and winter warrant a very different framework, one defined by collective political action that was in an important sense autonomous.
90% : The divisions in the states riven by civil war are ethnic, denominational, interreligious, geographical, tribal, and ideological.
90% : And although imperial powers, especially European ones, undoubtedly played an important part in shaping ethnic, denominational, and tribal divisions in Arabic-speaking countries, those historical influences date back too far to be the immediate causes of contemporary fissiparous tendencies.
89% : The most exciting, revolutionary aspect of the Arab spring was that the people were acting on their own, wresting control away from repressive governments and the international great powers who had long supported them.
89% : According to a discourse shared by many politicians, activists, and academics, the story of modern politics in the Arabic-speaking world has been framed largely in terms of imperial oppression and resistance to it.
88% : It sustained a functioning state for more than two years, attracting external adherents and achieving some measures of effective governance.
87% : These words, chanted rhythmically all over the Arabic-speaking world beginning in January 2011, promised a transformation in the history of the Middle East.
87% : Last, in chapter 5, I describe the mixed yet nonetheless remarkable success of Tunisia -- a success that makes the other parts of the Arab spring all the more tragic because it shows their failure was not always inevitable.
86% : The second argument of the book is that Arab nationalism looks very different during today's Arab winter than it did before the Arab spring.
85% : This interpretation comprises three main claims, all far-reaching, and all potentially controversial.
85% : Although movements associated with the Brotherhood had participated in government in Jordan and Morocco, in both cases they did so under the effective control of monarchies that severely limit politicians' freedom of action.
83% : People whose political lives had been determined and shaped from the outside tried politics for themselves, and for a time succeeded.
83% : Its ideals -- and perversions -- express a rejection of the failed movement for Islamic democracy, the same movement that also failed when the Muslim Brotherhood government was toppled in Egypt.
82% : In retrospect, experts and others are saying, there was no truly transformative political self-determination in those countries where people took to the streets and expressed their will to change.
82% : In place of the narrative of impotence and impossibility, I want to tell a different story of the arc from spring to winter, from inspired hope to tragic failure.
81% : We call that tragedy: the reversal that produces in us the distinctive combination of terror and empathy that Aristotle identified as catharsis.
80% : In this account, the Arab spring marked a crucial, historical break from a long era in which empires -- Ottoman, European, and American -- definitively shaped the course of Arab politics.
79% : It took seven years for the tragedy to play out.
79% : Protesters in Egypt against Hosni Mubarak wondered whether and how the United States would support the regime.
78% : The question of causation aside, the Brotherhood's collapse marked a generational end to democratically oriented political Islam not only in Egypt but in the whole of the Arabic-speaking world.
78% : Most strikingly, with the Brotherhood and Ennahda in different ways showing the vulnerabilities of democratically oriented Islamism, the caliphate of the Islamic State entered the global stage in the context of the post-Arab spring civil war in Syria.
76% : For the first time, mass movements of ordinary people sought to take their political fate into their own hands and shape a better future for themselves.
76% : Yet as we know today, the electrifying course of events that began in Tunisia, swept through Egypt, touched half a dozen more countries, and eventually reached Syria ultimately brought little good except to the place where it had begun.
76% : The background conditions that shaped the history of Arab political institutions were inflected and shaped by colonialism and imperialism.
76% : My suggestion is that responsibility for the Syrian civil war lies with the domestic Syrian structures of authority and identity that framed the conflict.
75% : Previously, the particularities of national experience in different Arabic-speaking states had made it possible and even fashionable to question the existence of such a broad sentiment.
73% : Something -- many things -- took place.
73% : And it matters for the future.
73% : In what follows, I set out to offer an interpretation of the deep political meaning of the Arab spring and its consequences.
72% : Failure is always one possible outcome of attempting self-determination.
71% : All these reflected the reality of political identification among and across Arab "people" and "peoples."
71% : Yet I maintain that if we accept that the people called for Mubarak to go, then we must also accept (despite the existence of deep state and military support for the removal protests) that the people spoke when they invited the army to remove Mohamed Morsi, the democratically elected post-revolutionary president.
70% : This was a colossal moral and practical error, I suggest -- yet one for which the Egyptian people bear responsibility.
69% : The overthrow of the regime!
68% : The participants in the events of the Arab spring and its aftermath took charge of their politics through action.
68% : Prior to the Arab spring, modern, Sunni, political Islam had undergone a nearly twenty-five-year process in which some of its most prominent exponents began to advocate for Arab states to Islamize their political order by democratic, constitutional means.
68% : In contrast, the Islamic State sought to recast political Islam in its recension as entirely continuous with premodern classical Islamic political governance.
67% : In my view, the central political meaning of the Arab spring and its aftermath is that it featured Arabic-speaking people acting essentially on their own, as full-fledged, independent makers of their own history and of global history more broadly.
67% : This phenomenon forms an important step in my broader argument about the transformation of political Islam.
66% : The key point is that Arab self-determination has crushed the myth of coherent, unified Arab nations with their own individual national identities.
65% : Assad himself ultimately came to rely on a quasi-imperial Russian intervention to defeat the insurgents and ensure his survival.
65% : In it, I ask: Who were the people?
65% : I argue that the Egyptian people did speak and did engage in genuine political action.
64% : Inasmuch as such a thing is ever possible in a world of global interaction and interdependence, the Arab spring and the Arab winter were the Arabs' own.
64% : I will analyze this fascinating and fateful choice later on; here it suffices to say that the successful transition of Ennahda is almost as consequential to the fate of political Islam as the Egyptian Brotherhood's failure.
64% : What regime was meant to go, and what was meant to replace it?
63% : The Arab spring recurred in a great number of Arab countries -- and it only visited Arab states.
63% : Their orientation reflected, heroically, the sense of autonomous collective action that I identify in my first strand of argument as constitutive of the Arab spring.
63% : The future of the Arabic-speaking world is and ought to be made by the people who live there, not from the outside.
62% : Those things mattered.
61% : My first argument begins with the observation that the Arab spring uprisings marked a new, unprecedented phase in Arab political experience, in which participants engaged in collective action for self-determination that was not conceived primarily in relation to imperial power -- neither as the main target of the collective movement nor as its fomenter or supporter.
60% : The optimism of their aspirations and the bravery of their efforts met with sympathy and excitement around the globe, especially from believers in the value of self-government.
59% : Yurid Isqat al-nizam
59% : The people
59% : Many joined by choice.
57% : The closest any Arab state came to instantiating modernized Islamic democratic political government was Iraq, where the constitution enshrines the shari'a alongside democracy and the Shi'i party known as Da'wa has provided all the prime ministers since 2005.
56% : This collapse of national identity was already prefigured in post-invasion Iraq, with its combination of ethnic (Arab-Kurd) and denominational (Sunni-Shi'i) cleavages.
55% : And now, from a distance that is short when measured in historical time but long when measured by how much has happened, a consensus view is emerging about the Arab spring.
55% : Moral assessments of credit and demerit, praise and blame, right and wrong must be laid first and foremost at the feet of the participants.
55% : Taking Egypt as its focal point, chapter 2 seeks to evaluate moral meaning.
52% : This book thus tells a new story of the Arab spring and proposes a new set of meanings both for its events and for the winter that has followed.
51% : In particular, fault lies with the Syrian configuration of a dictatorship dominated by a single denominational minority, the 'Alawis.
50% : Given that power structure, which emerged over a fifty-year period, Sunni, 'Alawi, and Christian Syrians alike bore a heavy burden of presenting one another with options for avoiding state collapse and civil war.
49% : And they differed rather obviously from the constitution making and civil war that followed the imperially initiated U.S. invasion of Iraq.
49% : The core of the claim I wish to make relates to the political significance of this new phase.
49% : In the shadow of the Brotherhood's collapse, Ennahda, the Brotherhood-affiliated party in Tunisia, gradually remade itself into a liberal Islamic party rather than an exponent of mainstream political Islam.
48% : Some of the energies released by the Arab spring were particularly horrifying, including those that fueled the Syrian civil war and the rise of the Islamic State.
48% : For this reason, the passage from Arab spring to Arab winter should be understood first and foremost as a narrative of self-determination, choice, and consequences, not as a story of heteronomy and external imposition.
48% : Its version of political Islam can in fact be interpreted as a conscious rejection of the Brotherhood's modernism and the democratic inclinations to which that modernism eventually led the movement.
46% : It matters that this breakdown of national identification is a product of collective efforts at self-determination, efforts that led not to unity but to the opposite.
46% : The consequence was the compromise-driven creation of a liberal Islamic democratic movement, one that deeply influenced the Tunisian constitution.
45% : In the Arab spring, the poetic call to change was merely the opening chorus of the drama.
44% : To recognize the presence of genuine political action in the Arab spring is to reject a narrative of nihilism in favor of a call to political responsibility.
42% : Political events in some Arab countries had massive spillover effects in others, from the imitative, fast-spreading protests and slogans to post-revolutionary struggles to specific techniques of repression.
42% : Relative homogeneity along one dimension has not stopped other dimensions of division from becoming fault lines in existential struggles for power.
42% : But it, too, failed, not because of its murderous brutality but as a result of a sustained military campaign funded by mostly external actors who viewed the Islamic State's utopia as dystopian.
42% : Tunisia solved a problem -- but not the problem that caused its revolution.
41% : The point, rather, is that the key decisions -- to rise against existing governments, to form new ones, to bring them down -- were made from within.
41% : They were not motivated or made based on opposition to empire or encouragement from it.
40% : On the other hand, within the states where the Arab spring led to major changes, the sense of an existing intraborder Arab nation has been radically undercut, and in some cases destroyed, relative to the pre-Arab spring moment.
39% : Slowly, painfully, by fits and starts, the heroic narrative of the Arab spring was transmuted into something much darker.
39% : Chapter 1 is an inquiry into the meaning of revolutionary political action.
38% : Sunnis in Syria hoped that the United States would intervene militarily to remove Bashar al-Assad from power, as it had already intervened in Libya to defeat Muammar al-Qaddafi.
38% : Outside forces were relevant to political calculations but did not determine them.
36% : In doing so, they remade and transformed the two big forces that have dominated political ideas in the Arabic-speaking world for the past century, namely Arab nationalism and political Islam.
35% : Nevertheless, there was an Arab spring that led to today's Arab winter.
34% : The takeaway from this profound internal division within some Arab states is that Arab nationalism can no longer be said to function as a plausible or compelling ideology for projecting national unity within Arabic-speaking countries.
33% : " Arabs (or maybe Muslims) were "exceptional" relative to the democratic capacities of other peoples.
33% : That this did not lead to constitutional democracy or even to a more decent life for most of those affected is not a reason to believe that the effort was meaningless.
32% : Seen through this retrospective lens, it is as though the Arab spring never happened -- because genuine political action requires achieving power, and the people never actually succeeded in doing that, whatever they may briefly have hoped and believed.
32% : In this important aspect, the Arab spring uprisings differed from the Arab independence movements of the early twentieth century, which were essentially anticolonial.
32% : In basic terms, the events took place in a framework defined by Arab choice and Arab power.
31% : What did they want?
30% : Where at one time Lebanon with its history of civil war might have been seen as an outlier relative to other Arab national units, it now looks more like an archetype.
29% : Regardless, the effort mattered for the course of history.
29% : Yet I conclude that even Tunisia's noteworthy accomplishments have so far failed to address the economic and social problems that fed the Arab spring where it began.
28% : They differed from the Arab revolutions against monarchs, which spanned the years 1920-73 and often had a significant component of anti-imperial ideology.
28% : This was a major move in the trajectory of political Islam.
27% : What is more, Tunisians displayed an internal national cohesion even in the face of deep political division, and hence are the exception that proves the rule of Arab national collapse.
26% : [ Return to the review of "The Arab Winter."
26% : [ Return to the review of "The Arab Winter."
26% : In chapter 3, I take on Syria.
26% : [ Return to the review of "The Arab Winter." ]
25% : The realities of contemporary identity have developed during decades of statist ideology, especially the ideologies of Arab nationalism as practiced in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and beyond.
25% : This occurred formally when Ennahda officially abandoned the core, definitional element of Islamism (a term I use interchangeably with political Islam) -- the aspiration to make the shari'a into the basis of the state's constitutional order.
24% : That is not to say that imperial powers were not still relevant to the political choices made by Arab actors.
24% : Chapter 4 claims that the Islamic State is best understood as a utopian, revolutionary-reformist movement that attained success locally and globally because of its appeal to jihadi-Salafi Muslims who were disappointed or disillusioned with other, modernist versions of political Islam.
22% : As I shall discuss at length, in Egypt, the Brotherhood ultimately failed or was blocked from effectively governing, and after the military replaced the Brotherhood with Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the Brotherhood was outlawed and suppressed.
22% : Tunisia succeeded largely because its people and their leadership took political responsibility for the consequences of their actions rather than seeking help from outside or hoping for internal forces to save them from themselves.
21% : Although dystopian when viewed from the outside, the Islamic State reflected its members' intentional, articulated aspiration to self-determining political action.
19% : The Islamic State did not just happen and was not foisted on all its members by compulsion.
18% : There is no question that, apart from removing a handful of dictators, the Arab spring did not achieve most of its grander aspirations.
18% : The third major claim I want to advance is that the events that followed the Arab spring fundamentally transformed political Islam -- broadly, the set of ideas and movements that aspire to a constitutional order grounded in the shari'a.
18% : In this way, the Islamic State belongs squarely to the Arab spring moment.
16% : The view can be stated simply: it was doomed to fail.
16% : Arab popular self-government was a "mirage," a "false dawn.
13% : I do not dispute that in many ways, the Arab spring ultimately made many people's lives worse than they were before.
13% : Arab countries that have not undergone civil war in the modern era are no longer even a clear majority among all Arab nations.
13% : Unlike the Brotherhood and its affiliates, the Islamic State eschewed democratic values and practices.
12% : There is a word for what happens when nobility, hope, and the human capacity to take action run headlong into conflict, error, and the human capacity to inflict horror.
12% : Indeed, nationalism itself looks very much endangered in the entire region as a consequence of this breakdown of state order.
11% : But where the Iraqi experience could be blamed on imperial intervention, the divisions in Libya, Syria, Yemen, and even Egypt cannot be similarly laid at the feet of an occupier seeking to categorize and control a local population.
10% : On the one hand, the Arab spring demonstrated the existence of a transnational, even pan-Arab sense of cross-border political identification.
9% : Arabs were acting to choose among possible Arab governments; and the governing forces arrayed against them were similarly Arab forces, not empires or imperial proxies.
9% : Yet this model, adopted by the Muslim Brotherhood, had not really been tried.
9% : It was an attempt by some Arabs and Muslims to make their political fate for themselves -- albeit in horrific form.
6% : The purpose of this book is to save the Arab spring from the verdict of implicit nonexistence and to propose an alternative account that highlights the exercise of collective, free political action -- with all the dangers of error and disaster that come with it.
5% : Ennahda's self-transformation itself marks an end to political movements advocating political Islamization through democratic means.
4% : Who was supposed to perform the overthrow?
2% : Those options, however, did not emerge, or at least did not emerge with sufficient clarity and plausibility to avoid a violent Sunni-'Alawi conflict -- itself evidence of the failure and passing of the Syrian version of Ba'thist Arab nationalism.

*Our bias meter rating uses data science including sentiment analysis, machine learning and our proprietary algorithm for determining biases in news articles. The rating is an independent analysis and is not affiliated nor sponsored by the news source or any other organization

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