The Arab uprising by James L Gelvin forms the first publication of the collection of the Arab spring, which is accredited to Marc Lynch. This American political scholar is considered to have close political ties to the Obama administration. He analyses the current state of affairs in the Middle East while highlighting the main players and the historical context.
The Arab uprising, as opposed to other accounts, is not only placed in the history of the Middle East, but in several parts of the world to insight comparisons. As opposed to many journalistic accounts, this account is fully aware of the recent history and clearly indicates them. The most eye catching thing about this book is the way it poses questions and answering them appropriately (Gelvin 23-45). Even though the answers are brief, they are never simplistic. As readers go through this book, these particular questions linger in their mind. Whether they are specialists or just informed readers, they must be aware of the need to seek the solutions for such questions.
The most important argument is his methodology in which he brings sense in recent events by examining their historical, social, political, cultural, and comparative contexts since the Second World War. In spite of the commonplace observation that everyone is aware of the outcomes of such events, readers have more insightful knowledge on them in their complexities (Gelvin 65-78). The book further provides a website for readers with interest on the names and dates among other information that it does not provide. The Arab Uprising by Gelvin has subdivisions into six chapters. The first chapter, ‘A revolutionary wave?’ gives the historical contexts. For instance, a question is raised here – why have authoritarian governments been so common in the Arab world? In his response, Gelvin answers in two main points; stable governments that have proved to be economically independent from their own policies, and continued support from the United States, initially in the WW1 and later following 9/11 global war on terror, which he considers to have reinforced autocracy.
The subsequent four chapters give an account of the developments of the uprising in single states and making comparison among these states. Having successfully gone through these precedent chapters, the reader is persuaded to consider even broader contexts. He further challenges the readers by asking the question about the possible conclusions they can draw from the far that they have read (Gelvin 123-140). He does not leave the readers with this question unanswered, he goes ahead to explain to them that uprisings are extraordinary and cannot be predicted. This book is important for readers interested in making sense of the events in the Arab world over the past years.
The Post American World, by Fareed Zakaria
In the beginning of this book, Zakaria clarifies that his book is not about the decline of America. He further says that his book is about the rise of everyone else. He makes the readers aware that the world we living in is currently undergoing rates of economic growth that were unthinkable in the past (Zakaria 21-45). However, the writer is very optimistic that large numbers of the world’s population still live in devastating poverty. The world’s population living on less than one dollar a day has declined to 18% in 2000 from the previous 40% in 1981. He further estimates that this would further reduce to 12% by 2015. He sees the world poverty declining in general. He gives an account of the economic growth between 2000 and 2007 and explains that this was the fastest growth in close to four decades. In fact, most of the developing countries’ populations live in much better conditions than they were in the 1990s. Even so, more improvements are expected on these life standards considering the current responsive economic growths of almost all countries of the world.
In mentioning the “bigger pie’, Zakaria intends to inform the readers that America stands to gain even more from these economic developments (Zakaria 45-67). He gives a promising positive proposal that the United States needs to form a coalition against them, instead of resigning to chaos or aggression. He suggests that Washington showing its willingness in allowing countries that are willing to become stakeholders in their new order can realize this possibility. In this book, Zakaria refers to the United States as having sufficient strengths and indicates that this new world order would not bring about a new superpower, but rather variety of forces that the U.S. can direct.
Zakaria also praises McCain for coolness with regard to another possible9/11 attack threat from the al-Qaeda. He also writes of the leaning of the candidates to appeal to fears of the public and the desires for toughness.
The realism in Zakaria’s argument is on the rise of China followed closely by the fast developing India. China is considered the most unbelievable success in history. It has proved to defy the laws of economic gravity. Other sources have revealed that the U.S. is seeking to contain China, which it significantly denies. China is currently reported to have daily exports exceeding the annual exports in 1978. Zakaria offers advice, which is also consistent with those given by other expertise on containment strategies by clarifying that this would only result in rebellion, resistance and enmity.
James L. Gelvin. The Arab Uprisings: What Everyone Needs to Know: What Everyone Needs To Know? Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print.
Zakaria Fareed. The Post-American World: 2nd edition. New York, New York: W. W. Norton, 2011. Print.