Arab Spring window closing in Iran

Ahmed Maher

Ahmed Maher

The Frontline piece titled Revolution in Cairo covers the April 6th Movement’s Arab Spring efforts against Mubarak’s regime.   April 6th Movement makes use of social media, particularly video, to expose atrocities and disseminate their message.  Facebook and YouTube are the primary delivery methods and with 60% of the population under 30, these social media’s efforts take a deep grip on the people, catching the regime by surprise.

When a leader of this movement named, Ahmed Maher (no relation to Bill) was captured, tortured and finally released after giving a fake password to his Facebook page, pictures of his injuries are posted on Facebook.  Facebook does not even have passwords, per se; the regime’s lack of understanding of social media came back to bite them because the publication of Maher’s injuries only served to further galvanize the movement.

The Arab Spring movement has already proven to be capable of gripping like-minded youth throughout the Middle East.  April 6th Movement took lessons from the largely peaceful Serbian uprising against Slobodan Milosevic’s regime in particular.  Iranian youth would be well served to closely examine the tactics of the Arab Spring in Egypt as well as Libya, Serbia, Tunisia and others.  The Iranian regime is different for sure, but many of these social media tactics can still work for Iranian’s to get their message out and to coordinate their movement.  The Iranian’s need their own April 6th moment, their own Tahrir Square moment or their own Tiananmen Square moment to serve as a symbol of the their own movement for freedom.  Iranian’s need their own Ahmed Maher to rally the people.  The Ayatollah’s grip is tightening in Iran as the regime learns effective tactics to combat social media through internet censorship.  Organization of the movement around social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook can be a critical facet of a similar pro-freedom movement in Iran, but the window for Iranians is closing.

Ayatollahs soon face war on two fronts

Jane Kokan

Jane Kokan

The 2004 Frontline piece on the student uprisings in Iran—prior to the current Ayatollah’s puppet leader Ahmadinejad was elected in protested elections—is both eye-opening and disturbing. Any sort of non-conformity toward Iranian political policy is met with relentless force. Students—men and women alike—are jailed, tortured, sexually violated and even murdered. According to student leaders in the Frontline piece, popular dissent stems from a desire for individual freedom, specifically religious freedom. The protesters want religion out of politics, but this would mean an end to religious Ayatollah rule and these religious clerics are not willing to relinquish their power over the people. Prior to the current regime, a more liberal President ruled. Even thought this President was also an Ayatollah puppet, his liberal policies likely encouraged the student protests in the 2004 timeframe. This is an encouraging signal regarding the possible emergence of democracy in Iran, but the Ayatollah’s recognized this and put into power a much more conservative or even fascist President, Ahmadinejad. While Ahmadinejad shows he has no problem ruling over a fascist state that squashes public discontent with violence, the organic groundswell calling for more freedom in Iran cannot be denied. There is a well-entrenched fascist machine in place in Iran and it will take a massive public movement to unseat the current regime. The regime is not really Ahmadinejad and his cronies; it is the Ayatollahs. The Ayatollahs decide who runs for office and most likely also have the ability to dictate the outcome of elections. In order for regime change to come in Iran, the Ayatollah’s will need to relent. This is unlikely. It is more likely the Ayatollahs will retain power and put in place more tolerant puppet leaders. This can only happen if Ahmadinejad and his police state are unable to quiet the surging wave of protests and calls for more freedom. If the people of Iran persist, the Ayatollahs may be left with no choice but to go along. This assumes no foreign intervention.

America and its allies is also dealing with a choice when it comes to Iran. The Ayatollah’s are playing with fire when it comes to their defiant approach to nuclear proliferation in their country. Should the world at large feel any more threatened by the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran and economic sanctions continue to be ineffective at deterring the Ayatollahs, there will be military intervention. This will not be good for the Ayatollah’s, the region or the world. In the region, war is likely to break out as Islamic tribes choose sides and unrest is likely to spill over into neighboring Iranian Middle East countries such as Israel, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. World powers such as Russia and China who have to-date been unwilling to intervene with sanctions will be forced to choose sides. When that happens world war is not out of the question. For the Ayatollahs, any potential military intervention is unlikely to stop at nuclear disarmament; the end game of military intervention will stop at nothing less than regime change. That spells trouble for the Ayatollahs. The Ayatollah’s would be wise to back off their nuclear ambitions for the time being and deal with the Iranian personal freedom protests, otherwise they will find themselves fighting a war on two fronts: one against foreign enemies and one against an enemy from within, their own people.

Chinese and Soviet economic policy of 1980’s has lasting economic consequences

Chinese and Russian Connection

The Chinese and Russian Connection

Many political scientists draw a connection between the Chinese economic reforms in the 1980’s and Gorbachev’s efforts toward the same in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic—U S.S.R.  Both of these countries along with others are profoundly affected by these events.  The Soviet policy of perestroika begins a movement toward free markets in that country, but does not go far enough to be wholly successful.  The Soviet policy of glasnost is well intentioned but ultimately hinders Soviet economic progress.  As the economies and politics of the world’s countries become more interdependent, the impact of changes within the U.S.S.R. also leaves impressions on China and the United States of America.  The revolutions in the communist countries of Europe of the 1980’s embolden the Chinese government to continue its crackdown on political dissention, but the relaxation of economic regulations during this time gives China one of the fastest growing economies in modern history.

Perestroika is the label given to Mikhail Gorbachev’s economic modernization and political reform policies of the 1980’s.  The approach in the Soviet Union is top-down, whereby the state still clings to economic power, maintains price controls and disallows private property ownership (Library of Congress, 1996).  Foreign investment and trade is also severely hindered.  Although Gorbachev allows private ownership of businesses for the first time since Lenin’s state capitalism of the 1920’s, he also allows the state to set the production quotas and leaves business owners to struggle for funding under stringent regulations (Library of Congress, 1996).   While Perestroika is a groundbreaking first step towards free markets in the Soviet Union—and in many ways is the catalyst for the nationalization of its constituent republics such as Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan—it does not go far enough to fully modernize, and the Soviet economy continues to decline through the 1990’s.

At the same time in China, Deng Xiaoping is also embracing free market ideals and implementing market based economic reforms that are later termed the socialist market economy of modern China.  Unfortunately for Russia, this is where the similarities end.  Unlike Gorbachev, Xiaoping is—in title—neither the head of government or a political party in China (New Learning, 2011).  Nevertheless, he is able to influence economic change China.  Where the Soviet’s discourage relations with entities outside their state, the Chinese embrace such partnerships.  While the Soviet state continues to set prices, the Chinese phase out such measures and allow the sale of goods on more open markets.  While the Soviet Union controls the rate of production, the Chinese grant more production rights to business owners.  While the Soviets handicap private business funding with stifling regulations on foreign investment, the Chinese endorse foreign investment (New Learning, 2011).  The Chinese bottom up approach and recognition of a need to play a role in the global economy are the reasons the Chinese experience better economic growth than the Soviets.

Prior to and during perestroika, Gorbachev is also encouraging more transparency in government with political reforms termed glasnost.  Gorbachev has the right idea with glasnost, but the people of the U.S.S.R. are so frustrated by years of oppression that protests and civil instability increases.  This creates a more tumultuous and unpredictable economic environment (Magstadt, 1989).  Soviet workers protest low pay and poor working conditions; there also is an outcry to end the invasion of Afghanistan (Remington, 1989).  This civil unrest is the precise opposite of what Gorbachev hopes and presumably makes him question—if only to himself—if glasnost is the right course.  The Soviet economy is the recipient of the negative effects of a new voice of the strife within its people, which is ironically tied to the government allowing more freedom.

Unlike the Soviets of the 1980’s, the Chinese government is continuing to crackdown on its opposition.  The Chinese demonstrate this most notably during the protests calling for democracy in Tiananmen Square. Gorbachev’s glasnost policies are a catalyst for the fall of communism in countries such as Poland, Hungary, Easy Germany, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia.  The Chinese people see the rise of freedom in their neighboring Communist countries and want this for themselves, helping to spark the protests.  Indirectly, Soviet glasnost is a likely source of the Chinese protestor courage. Xiaoping—the father of China’s socialist market economy—is not surprisingly a supporter of the movement, but is later forced by the Chinese Communist Party to denounce the incident (Barboza, 2011).  Ultimately, the events of Tiananmen Square give the Chinese government an excuse to crackdown under the veil of restoring order and work to only temporarily impede the Chinese economic surge.  Counter-intuitively, the continued crackdown in China may very well be the reason the Chinese economy flourished while the Soviets struggle.  Successful free markets require order and rule of law, something the Chinese maintain while the Soviets let slip.

China’s economy is growing rapidly and with that growth U.S. and Chinese trade increases.  Total U.S. trade with China increases from $2 billion in 1979 to $457 billion in 2010 and most of the increase is attributable to the export of Chinese goods (Congressional Research Service, 2011). In 1985—prior to the Chinese economic reforms—the U.S. imports only $3 billion in goods from China.  In 2011, almost $400 billion of U.S. trade with China is in Chinese exports (United States Census Bureau, 2012).  This increase in Chinese output coincides almost perfectly with the Chinese economic reforms of the 1980’s.  Because China realizes the advantages of a worldwide economy in the 1980’s, an increased consumer base for China creates a newfound demand for goods and allows their economy to flourish over the last three decades.

Conversely, the comparatively stagnant trade between the U.S. and Russia demonstrates the failure of the persistent Soviet isolationist economic policies of the 1980’s.  Because of Soviet secrecy and isolationism, reliable trade numbers older than 1992 are not even readily available.  As a contrast to the burgeoning exports of China, the Soviets only increase their exports to the U.S. from $481 million in 1992 to $34 billion in 2011 (United States Census Bureau, 2012).  The difference in China is stark.  Although Soviet economic policies of the 1980’s are not solely to blame for Russia’s failure when compared to China, the complexion of the Russian and Chinese economies would likely be quite different if those policies are reversed.

The transformations in China and the former Soviet Union in the 1980’s extend far beyond the borders of these two countries.  Glasnost paved the way for perestroika in the U.S.S.R.  Glasnost and perestroika awakened the Chinese to begin a transformation of their own in order to stay competitive, and also in an attempt to partially appease the Chinese people.  Chinese exports are decades ahead of what the Russian’s can achieve.  Subsequently, the United States’ trade with Russia remains largely stagnant but is ever increasing with China.  American’s enjoy the benefits of less expensive goods due to the increased supply coming from China.  This development is in large part a result of policies set in motion in the 1980’s revolutions in Communist Europe and China.


Library of Congress (July 1996). Russia: the perestroika program.

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New Learning (2011). Deng Xiaoping: Socialism with Chinese characteristics.

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United States Census Bureau (2012).  Trade in goods with Russia.

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United States Census Bureau (2012).  Trade in goods with China.

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Congressional Research Service (30 Sept. 2011). China-U.S. trade issues.

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Remington, Thomas (1989).  The Oxford Journals: Renegotiating Soviet federalism:

glasnost and regional autonomy.  Retrieved from

Magstadt, Thomas M., Ph.D (1989).  Cato Institute. Gorbachev and Glasnost—A new Soviet order? Implications for U.S. foreign policy.

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Barboza, David (2011).  The New York Times. The man who took modernity to

China.  Retrieved from

Otto von Bismarck: Less credited founding father of totalitarianism

     Otto von Bismarck’s route to power in the late nineteenth century is guided by his family’s influence and achieved through a step-wise path from local politician to military officer and ultimately to a national figure.  He emerges from a privileged upbringing with nationalist ideals.  These ideals influence his desire to unify Germany and he continues to apply his nationalistic vision throughout his path to becoming the most powerful leader of Europe.  After unifying Germany, Bismarck becomes the country’s first Chancellor and solidifies his political legacy.  When comparing Bismarck to his American and British peers, his dictatorial ideology emerges with even more clarity.  Bismarck’s rise to power, German unification policymaking and actions as Germany’s first Chancellor paints him as anti-democratic and totalitarian.

Otto von Bismarck is born on April 1st 1815 in Schonhausen, Prussia to a noble, land-owning Prussian family. From an early age Bismarck’s mother is a driving force in his life.  She ensures he is well educated and uses the family’s social connections for his benefit (Gale, 1994).  As a member of a Prussian aristocratic family, Bismarck’s involvement in civil service is no surprise because only nobility ascends to high office. In 1848 the struggle between conservative and liberal philosophies reaches a boiling point and Prussia is facing a possible revolution (Gale, 1994). During this period Bismarck vigorously defends the Prussian monarchy, gaining him confidence with the King, Frederick William IV.  King Fredrick William IV turns over the throne to his weaker brother King Wilhelm because of his failing health; Prussia’s monarchy begins to weaken, and liberal legislators attempt to limit the power of the King by claiming Prussia’s constitution grants them rights to control the budget (Gale, 1994). On September 22, 1862 Bismarck attains his most powerful position to date when King Wilhelm appoints him as Prussia’s Minister President.  In this post, Bismarck acts as an advocate for the Prussian monarchy in the legislature and controls liberal legislators (Gale 1994). Bismarck’s noble pedigree, education, and successful political career are all key factors in his rise to power in Germany.

Upon becoming Minister President of Prussia, Bismarck sets focus on the goal of German unification.  During an 1862 trip to London, Benjamin Disraeli—future Prime Minister—records Bismarck’s words, “As soon as the army shall have been brought into such a condition as to inspire respect, I shall seize the first best pretext to declare war against Austria, dissolve the German Diet, subdue the minor states and give national unity to Germany under Prussian leadership” (Steinberg, 2011). In 1866 he delivers on this threat by provoking Austria into attacking Prussia. Bismarck is able to isolate Austria diplomatically, and the Prussian army destroys the Austrians in the Battle of Königgrätz at Sadowa, Prussia (Steinberg, 2011). The Franco-Prussian War is another occasion for Bismarck to display Prussian military superiority as they destroy the entire French army and capture Emperor Napoleon III. Bismarck uses this series of military successes to cement national support.  Keeping sight of his ultimate objective of unifying Germany as one nation and respecting his loyalty to the Prussian Monarchy, he negotiates a unification of the German states under the Monarchy.  This unification on January 18, 1871 makes Bismarck, as Minister President, the most powerful leader in Europe (Steinberg, 2011).  Through the unification of Germany and exercise of military superiority, Bismarck created the foundation of modern day Germany.

     In 1871 as Minister President of Prussia, Bismarck establishes the German Empire and becomes Germany’s first Chancellor (Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d.).  In 1873, much of Europe and the United States are enduring the Long Depression.  To relieve some economic pressure Bismarck, with the support of German conservatives, adopts anti-capitalist tariffs. Bismarck enters into a campaign to ‘Germanize’ national minorities in order to avoid the problems that come with ruling over citizens with differing nationalities (New World Encyclopedia, 2008).  Bismarck is anti-socialist.  In a fascist-like move, he attempts to thwart any social revolutionary movement; he bans socialist activities and even has prominent socialist movement leaders arrested and tried in court.  Bismarck interestingly contradicts his anti-socialist leanings by supporting welfare programs.  Bismarck is socially progressive, evidenced by being the very first in the world to champion national social programs such as social insurance, accident insurance, medical care and unemployment insurance (Social Security Online, n.d.)  Perhaps he implements these highly popular programs before his socialist challengers in an effort to take the wind out of the socialist movement’s sails.  While democracy is on the rise in America, even though Germany is unified, Bismarck sets the stage for future years of German rule under totalitarian regimes.

Although, Bismarck begins his rule as Chancellor of Germany in 1871, his deep involvement in shaping Germany’s policies as Minister President of Prussia from 1862 – 1890 make him a peer of the 17th U.S. President, Andrew Johnson.  Johnson is the U.S. President from 1865 – 1869. Johnson and Bismarck rise to power from different backgrounds, but have similarities in domestic policy.  Bismarck’s family is part of the landowning nobility of Prussia—Junkers—and he obtains high levels of academic education, while Johnson is born into poverty and works as a tailor to help support his family (America’s Library, n.d.).  Johnson faces a post-civil war era of reconstruction in the United States, and much like Bismarck, recognizes the importance of maintaining unity, although the issue of suffrage for Freedmen clouds his judgment.  Johnson is committed to reincorporate the once seceded Confederate States into the Union.  Johnson continues his predecessor Lincoln’s work to unify the country showing his commitment by recognizing Virginia’s state government (Library of Virginia, 2011).  Johnson’s pro-slavery sentiment causes him to put the restoration movement in jeopardy when he refuses to sign a series of laws—Called Restoration Acts—that are aimed at making the recognition of Southern States’ provisional governments conditional on their ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment (University of Virginia Miller Center, n.d.).  Fortunately for the Union, Congress is able to override each of Johnson’s vetoes of the Restoration Acts and the reunification of America continues.  Although he is willing to put his pro-slavery position ahead of the U.S. reconstruction efforts—a sentiment sowed during his poor upbringing in the slave-owning state of Tennessee—Johnson shares Bismarck’s vision for a unified nation.  Bismarck’s affluent, educated and post-materialistic upbringing allows him to stay focused and be more effective in German unification than Johnson is in America.

Great Britain’s Prime Minister during Bismarck’s reign, William Gladstone, is “a passionate campaigner on a huge variety of issues, including home rule for Ireland” (BBC 2012).  As leader of Britain’s Liberal Party, Gladstone “disestablishes the Irish Protestant Church and passes the Irish Land Act to rein-in unfair landlords” (BBC 2012).  This is important because of the parallel to Bismarck’s dictatorial inclinations.  Like Gladstone, Bismarck is weary of the power of religious influence in Germany.  “One of his targets [is] the Catholic Church, which he believes has too much influence, particularly in southern Germany” (Steinberg, 2011).  Both Bismarck and Gladstone recognize wrestling power from internal special interest groups is essential to secure stability for the regime.

When thinking of the most prominent totalitarian leaders in modern history, Lenin, Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin come to mind.  Prior to these, Otto von Bismarck lays the groundwork.  His progression to become the most powerful man in Europe begins with his inherited nobility and high level of education.  His advancement in in his civil career continues with his appointment to the office of Prussia’s Minister President.  As Minister President, Bismarck’s underlying totalitarian tendencies emerge as he unifies Germany.  When comparing Bismarck to his contemporaries, similar ambitions of unification exist, but not the same degree of disregard for democratic process.  Bismarck completes his rise to power when he becomes Chancellor of the newly unified German Empire.  As German Chancellor Bismarck’s continued anti-democratic policies and unrelenting dictatorial actions reserve him an indelible place as a founding father of totalitarianism.

Contributing Researchers and Authors: Noel Conrad and Bartek Gewont


Social Security Online (n.d.).  Otto von Bismarck German Chancellor 1862-1890. Retrieved from

Encyclopedia Britannica (n.d.). Otto von Bismarck. Retrieved from Bismarck

New World Encyclopedia (2008, April 4). Otto von Bismarck. Retrieved from

America’s Library (n.d.). The New Nation (1790-1828). Retrieved from

Library of Virginia (2011). Reconstruction.  Retrieved from

University of Virginia Miller Center (n.d.). American President Andrew Johnson (1808 – 1875).  Retrieved from

BBC (2012).  William Ewart Gladstone (1809 – 1898). Retrieved from

BBC (2012). Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898). Retrieved from

Gale, 1994. Otto von Bismarck. Historic World Leaders. Gale World History In Context.

Steinberg, Jonathan  (2011).  How did Bismarck do it?  History Today 61.2 (2011): pp. 21+.

Steinberg, Jonathan. (2011). “Bismarck A Life.” Oxford. Oxford University Press.

Immigration in Great Britain…legal and illegal

The Clegg plan to solve the illegal immigration problem in Great Britain is a good compromise.  The plan calls for ‘regularising’ some 300,000 – 900,000 illegals currently living in that country.  It is not entirely what either side would like to see; it does not require the deportation of illegals—a hard conservative stance—nor does it grant blanket amnesty for the any illegals—a more liberal approach.  Requiring illegal immigrants to pass a basic civics test and have a proficiency in the English language before becoming citizens is the bare minimum expectation required for these people to be well-functioning members of British society.  Requiring a fee that can be paid through community service is also a great idea to mitigate any concerns over applicants not being able or willing to pay.  The Economist’s article leaves out other important points that will need to be settled before any plan could win bipartisan support.  Some of these include what happens to those already in line to become citizens legally; do these illegals have to get in line with everyone else?  Also, where does the money come from to pay for the plan’s call to educate all children aged five to sixteen?  This certainly can’t be paid for by the community service of applicants.  In the final analysis, Clegg’s plan may in fact only be a political calculation to float an idea that does not require deportation, but it also serves to stoke the fires of debate and puts this issue in the spotlight.

The Labour Party has historically held an even more relaxed immigration policy.    However, an exodus of C2’s from the Labour party has caused Labour leaders to reevaluate the party’s position on illegal immigration.  C2’s are skilled manual laborers that many times have been a deciding factor in British elections.  Many C2’s believe that illegal immigrants represent a threat to their economic stability.  Incidentally, this anxiety can also been seen even more so amongst American manufacturing workers.  In an effort to win back support, the Labour Party is now taking a more active stance on illegal immigration by advocating stronger borders, identification cards for legal foreign nationals, a border fence and a technologically advance people counting system for those entering and exiting the country.  This more conservative approach is no doubt designed to attract an anti-illegal immigrant constituency such as the C2’s that see illegal immigrants as a menace.  Tempering the undeniably conservative aspects of such a position, the Labour Party is quick to point out the they are proud of Great Britain’s reputation of being a safe haven and will continue to provide a place of refuge for the oppressed and those legally seeking asylum.

The Tory Party is a colloquial term for the Conservative Party in Great Britain and their illegal immigration stance follow in suit.  The Tories are very upfront in recognizing the value and benefits of legal immigration on the economy and culture of British society but temper that sentiment by criticizing the Labours for allowing immigration to go unchecked during their reign.  Like the Labours, the Tories tout a strong border and support measures such as border police and a fence to secure the border.  The Tories go even further than Labour’s recent step to the right by supporting a throttling of the inflow of legal immigrants on the basis of economic benefit.  That is to say, those who want to enter Britain legally will first be evaluated on how they may benefit the overall economy; those with a more positive evaluation would be admitted first.  This is an extremely conservative approach unlikely to gain enough traction to become a reality.

Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrat policy towards illegal immigration is very savvy.  It lands somewhere between the historically liberal but increasingly conservative approach of the Labour Party and the extremely conservative approach of the Tories.  The Liberal Democrats will need to address criticisms that they are offering amnesty, albeit condition based.  The Tories will need to address concerns over economic discrimination and discrimination in general while the Labours seem to be in the throws of a full-blown identity crisis.  Having been historically hands-off on illegal immigration, they have now taken a position that they believe to be politically expedient in winning over votes from a key constituency.  But this flies in the face of the party’s traditional political identity.  Only time will reveal with certainty if any of these solutions will win and if that solution will even work; however, it seems most likely that Clegg’s plan has the most potential to attract enough conservative and liberal support to pass.  Clegg’s Liberal Democrat plan will have the most impact on how the British handle their illegal immigration problem because it is stirring the most conversation and has the best possibility to pass.

Globalization in Developing Nations

The material incentives in China and India are likely to make middle class workers more supportive of a global economic and cultural system.  With the prospect of shifting to a global economic system, Chinese and Indian workers are not being asked to give up much by way of their integrity, religious or social manner of living.  If they feel an improvement in quality of life, these workers will embrace and encourage the change.  As the economic benefits are reaped, these workers will want to do more of what brought their gains.  Presently, oversees dollars are need to infuse the economies of these otherwise developing countries.  A more global economic system is inevitable for India and China.  Adopting a global cultural system will not be as easy, but humankind’s susceptibility to the allures of materialistic means will win that struggle too.

Some political systems will be able to maintain stability while other will fail.  A political system more rooted in religious tenants is more likely to resist a change towards globalization than a more secular government.  Religiously rooted and dictatorial governments are threatened by socio-economic globalization because many of their people have not known an alternative until recently.  These types of governments feel they cannot co-exist with a global economy and particularly a global culture.   They will face a more difficult time maintaining stability as they resist the will of the people.  For years, the people of these countries have not had a reason to rise up, but as globalization takes hold they are getting glimpses of how life can be better.  This promise of a better life provides the much-needed incentive and wins the hearts and minds of civilians.  As seen with the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, resistant governments will eventually fall.

The threat of a shift towards a global culture is behind much of the rise in terrorism the world is seeing.  Religiously rooted governments and their supporting institutions are threatened they will lose membership to the temptations of a materialistic world.  They see the leaders of the global community as a threat to their way of life and lash out in misplaced defense.  A balance can be struck, but it most likely will require some loss of power within these traditionally dictatorial regimes.  If the leaders of terrorist movements do not eventually learn to coexist with the global community, they will be overthrown or made irrelevant as seen with—amongst others—Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt.

The new opportunities for Asian workers presented by the shift toward a more global economy present a perceived threat to many American workers.  The mentality of the threatened American worker belies the reality that the increased wealth in these Asian nations presents yet more opportunity for workers in the United States.  Sure, if these workers wish to remain working on an assembly line or a call center and never update their skills, they will likely lose their job at some point.  However, the more conscientious American workers will recognize and seize the opportunity to upgrade their skills.  Innovation on the part these American workers will allow them to remain vital to the global economy by providing the ideas, managerial skills, systems that employ the very Asian workers that are a threat to others.

UN Security Council ambassadors claim progress in talks on Syria resolution

Along with danger, opportunity exists within every crisis.  The civil unrest in Syria stemming from over thirty years of rule by a dictatorial regime is a current crisis fraught with opportunity.  Should western diplomats’ demands be met, the Syrian people will be a step closer to a successful overthrow of its dictator, Bashar Assad.  Western diplomats are demanding a peace plan calling for an end to police and military violence and for President Bashar Assad to step down and allow the formation of a new government.  Assad has been routinely accused of imprisonment, torture and even murder of political rivals and opponents of his regime.  Should the United Nations (U.N.) adopt the plan conceived by diplomats from the United States, India and Germany, the Syrian people will have made great progress in its plight for freedom.

However, there are challenges in getting the U.N. to adopt this plan.  Russia—a permanent voting member of the U.N. Security Council—vows to oppose any resolution that contains “any hint of a military intervention or regime change.”  This resistance is rooted in Russia’s cozy relationship with the Assad regime—a close ally.  Should there be regime change in Syria, Russia’s relations with its current ally would be in jeopardy, with Syria’s future stability and governance uncertain.  Complicating matters further, China—another permanent voting member of the U.N. Security Council—has also sided with Assad’s regime in the past.  Without China and Russia’s cooperation, no end to this stalemate is within reach.

Fortunately, pressure is mounting and Russia’s stall tactics are wearing thin on the global community.  Amnesty International’s U.N. representative, Jose Luis Diaz commented on the world’s lack of patience with Russia: “Russia’s threats to abort a binding U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria for the second time are utterly irresponsible.”  The U.N. believes there are at least 5,400 deaths in the now ten-month standoff between the Syrian regime and its civilians.  Such human rights violations cannot be ignored and Russia must either go along with the global community or at a minimum stop blocking the regime change in Syria.


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