Right Thinking From The Left Coast
We didn't lose the game; we just ran out of time. - Vince Lombardi

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bahrain Next?

After a couple of days of violent bloody crackdowns, the government of Bahrain is pulling back, apparently with some nudging from the Obama Administration.  LIbya is exploding in protests as well.  There is a huge wave sweeping he Middle East and I have no idea how it’s going to end up.

Probably one of the best insight on this comes from, as always, Fareed Zakaria:

The central, underlying feature of the Middle East’s crisis is a massive youth bulge. About 60% of the region’s population is under 30. These millions of young people have aspirations that need to be fulfilled, and the regimes in place right now show little ability to do so. The protesters’ demands have been dismissed by the regimes as being for Islamic fundamentalism or a product of Western interference. But plainly these are homegrown protests that have often made the West uneasy as they have shaken up old alliances. And what the protesters want in the first place is to be treated as citizens, not subjects. In a recent survey of Middle Eastern youth, the No. 1 wish of the young in nine countries was to live in a free country, although, to be sure, jobs and the desire to live in well-run, modern societies ranked very high as well.

Young people are not always a source of violence. The West experienced a demographic bulge — the famous baby boom in the decades after World War II — that is known mainly for fueling economic growth. China and India, likewise, have a large cohort of young workers, and that adds to those countries’ economic strength. But without economic growth, job opportunities and a sense of dignity, too many young people — especially young men — can make for mass discontent. That is what has happened in the Middle East, where the scale of the youth bulge is extreme — perhaps the largest in the world right now. From 1970 to 2007, 80% of all outbreaks of conflict occurred in countries where 60% or more of the population was younger than 30. And even places where the baby boom produced growth are not without problems. The peak years of the West’s bulge came in the late 1960s, a period associated with youth rebellions and mass protests.

The extreme youth bulge is a combination of two factors.  One is technical advancement dropping infant mortality rates and increasing food yields around the world.  The other is societies/religions that treat women as nothing more than brood mares.  Technical advancement in the West came with increasing liberty for women.  This has not been the case in most Middle East societies. In short, these guys are hoist by their own population-booming petards.

There’s tons of speculation about what’s going to happen.  Dew-eyed idealists think we’re going to end up with a string of democracies from Casablanca to Tehran.  Wild-eyed conspiracists think this is beginning of the Islamic Caliphate.  Personally, since none of them saw this coming in advance, I’m inclined to trust their prognostications slightly less than I trust the cat’s.  All we can do is ride this out.  So far, so good.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 02/19/11 at 11:25 AM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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