Emma Bonino’s article “The Arab Spring Label is over. The Arab struggle for a better future is not” is an investigative look at the success and the failures of the Arab spring that started in Tunisia in the month of December 2010. Bonino argues that while the Arab Spring would be perceived as a sudden outburst, it was a gradual process of simmering emotions on the people about the authoritarian regimes in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia and others. However, while looking at what happened in Egypt in the summer of 2013, one can almost certainly argue that while the Arab spring led to the ousting of dictators and exercising of democratic elections in most of these states, it did not address the genesis of the issues that were pertinent. Because of this reason, Europe must re-examine how it relates with the changes that happens south of the Mediterranean.
Some philosophy that defines the contemporary theory in this matter is neo-liberalism. Neoliberalism is synonymous with liberalism. According to Joseph Mensah, “neoliberalism is an ideology at the center piece of globalization that seeks to expand global capital accumulation through free trade, financial deregulation, privatization and other tenets of the so-called Washington Consensus spearheaded by the World Bank, IMF, World Trade Organization and kindred organizations.” In the study of globalization in North Africa, there is a need to understand why countries will be better off if they are united with the rest of the world. Functionalism offers a better answer to this question. Functionalism refers to a body of literature that assumes the ability of people with common needs to unite across national boundaries. The functionalists assume that there are wide and significant areas of common need that can be met by common services.
In the mindset of Europeans, the Arab Spring signaled an almost unscathed transition to democracy. However, the stiff- nakedness of the armed rebellion of Libya, the insolvency of Assad’s regime in Syria and the ousting of the Muslim brotherhood democratically elected government in Egypt present question marks on the feasibility of function democracies in the middle-east. Instead of lamentations, Europeans must reckon with the fact that democratic transitions take long, rough, and patched paths that often meander. The Arab course is as such, typical. For effective assessment of the trend, Europe must divorce itself from the clear-cut view of the word. In the case of non-western societies, things are not either white- or black. There are grey areas. Arab political history is an assortment of historical factors, events, diversity, and trends. Perhaps this is why Europe’s one fit-all modalities of foreign policy is a tailor made idea that does not fit the situation. A reassessment of policy is eminent.
While exploring the Arab Spring of North Africa, one must understand that the revolutions occurred so fast that it almost impossible to argue whether they were successful or not. The pointers of their failure are most evident in Egypt where the state has failed to continue with the agenda of successful nation building. The building of societies toward a political culture is a strenuous exercise that requires more that facebook mobilization. It is an awareness that must be inclusive instead of exclusive. Social media replaced the media as the most independent source of news and for meetings. In doing so, it made it possible for people to get out and challenge the systems by using videos that were posted on many pages online. In the long run, while social media was successful in jump starting a revolution, it was not successful in ensuring that ideological, economic, and social constrained that sparked off the revolution were considered.
The Arab spring disturbed waters, leading to insecurity. Given the ambiguous nature of security threats today, a state’s security threat in no longer the traditional rival state, instead the threat to sovereignty is now a function of the state’s ability to identify its security threat and to deal with it. This is where the Arab spring has failed to deliver. The threat of sovereignty lies on the inability to satisfy the people most basic needs. The new approach probably hints that sovereignty is not guaranteed to states. Rather, states earn sovereignty. The process of earning sovereignty is tasking and includes amongst others, preemptive measures such as carefully identifying threats and tackling them adequately. In order to protect its sovereignty, a state must deal with the root causes of security issues such as poverty, which may risk society stability and peace. In addition, a society must realize that the security issue today is holistic and includes aspects of political-diplomatic, social-economic and psychological- moral, and military-police”, this requires not a singular approach but a complex paradigm that explores all the issues at stake. Security on the part of Europe will be fined by threats against terrorism, uncontrolled immigration, human rights violation as well as other factors. Because of this reasons, Europe cannot be a fence-sitter but a vocal and engaging member. Europe cannot escape getting entangled in the development of functional states in the Arab society.
The Arab Spring last two years provided a phenomenon that had not been witnessed in the history of organizational politics. The Internet had come of age and was influencing the occurrence of revolutions in North Africa. The social media such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and the rest proved that they could facilitate revolutions and possibly topple regimes. The questions that scholars have been asking is whether the success of social media in organizing young people to start a revolution could be used to engineer the growth of new states that foster representative democracies and nation states that are based on strong democracies. Here lies, the problem, communication that engrained the success were successful courtesy of globalization.
In conclusion we must reckon that the main political phenomenon happening in the Middle East in recent times is the spread of democracy. The Arab spring of 2011 proves this increasing democratization. Together with region-wide economic boom in many years, democratization has regenerated a sense of optimism and pride among the Arab society. However, the Arab society’s democracy has been threatened by the traditions of political exclusion, poverty, and external influence from the United States, Europe, and perhaps, the peoples’ over-expectation on what democracy can deliver. Emma Bonino’s article “The Arab Spring Label is over. The Arab struggle for a better future is not” is thus a poignant examination of what the Europeans can do to stay on course with the political development in the Middle East. Giving up is not a solution. . A state is inclined to accept interventions from other countries to safeguard its sovereignty. Interventionism is a new approach to security issues that include aspects of collective security. Collective security implies that the wellbeing of all nations is a responsibility of every nation in the global arena. With this new arrangement, the invading nation in the form of intervention, ceases to be invader, rather it becomes the defender of the idea of sovereignty. This is a shift from the traditional concept of sovereignty that saw the invasion of another state as a form of aggression and thus a breach of sovereignty. Under this arrangement, Europe’s affair with the Arab world is far from over.
Bonino, E. (2013, July 25). The Arab spring label is over. The Arab struggle for a better future is not. Retrieved October 5, 2013, from Guardian News and Media Limited website: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jul/25/arab-spring-label-future-west-democracy
Lam, A. (2012/09/04) From Arab Spring to Autumn Rage: The Dark Power of Social Media. Retrieved on October 5, 2013 from Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/social-media-arab-spring.
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