Sunday, January 16, 2011

Late to write about Tunisia

There are two things missing before I feel comfortable writing about Tunisia. The first is that we haven't seen how the situation will settle. The second is that I have not seen an ideologically based movement positioned to take power.

It takes an ideological reason for any leader or prospective leader to make any sacrifice. Communism will do. Any religion, including Islam will do. Tunisian nationalism will do. Anti-colonialism will do. Democracy will do if it is a specific vision rather than a vague aspiration. There has to be some goal that the leadership is willing to sacrifice for. That goal has to have some application to the many small decisions that must be made by many many people, especially upon a change of power.

A leadership or a prospective leadership without any ideology will do what is easiest. And the United States, France and Israel have substantial resources to convince Tunisia's next leadership that the easiest course is to effectively replicate the policies of Ben Ali.

Which is to say I'm cautiously happy with Ali's flight from the country. I don't have much confidence, though I do have some hope, that he will be replaced with any substantially different leadership than the outgoing administration.

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