Quote notes (#100)
Adam Garfinkle on the profound pointlessness of international ambitions in the Middle East:
Iraq, and Libya have pretty much fallen to pieces, and Lebanon breathes whatever vapors Syria wafts its way. Egypt is an economic corpse that doesn’t know it’s dead and so won’t fall down. (For my ducats there is no better symbol of the Egyptian circumstance than Cairo’s City of the Dead — a vast cemetery full of countless squatters.) Jordan is suffering a multi-sourced nervous breakdown, complete with anti-Hashemite mobs. Algeria and Bahrain are armed camps, albeit for different reasons. Tunisia is a political weathervane that cannot control its borders. Morocco is fragile and faces a rising Berber challenge. Yemen is an armed mess. Sudan is a truncated basket case. Only great gobs of resource rents keep Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar afloat and seemingly quiescent. Oman may be the only Arab country that has managed to keep its balance, and it’s not a real state anyway — just a family with a flag.
This sad state of affairs is not the wayward result of the so-called Arab Spring. Not only does it long predate the Arab Spring, but all that misnamed and wildly misunderstood phenomenon wrought was to accelerate the ongoing decay of the highly unappealing authority relationships in these societies. It has disrupted the ugly and the unacceptable in different ways in different countries, since they’re all different. But with the possible exception of Tunisia (and the jury is still out), the results have not been any improvement on the status quo ante. Some state authorities have their backs up and are trying to be more oppressive than ever, while others are simply flailing.
The ruling classes are right to be worried. Trust in the state has suffered, and rightly so, because the management efficiency of these states, never very good in most places, has eroded further in the face of deteriorating economies and social infrastructure (education, housing, and health care) and the rise of expectations among more mobilized, youthful, cyber-wired, literate, and urbanized populations. All these creaking, slow-moving and mostly corrupt states are in deepening trouble, if they haven’t yet collapsed entirely.
So here we have a bundle of collapsing or very weak states, states that never achieved Weberian status as modern states in the first place, and what is the favorite obsession of the (so-called) international community? To create yet another Arab state, called Palestine.