by Patrick Appel
"The toppling of the Tunisian regime led by Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali has led a lot of smart people -- including my FP colleague Marc Lynch -- to suggest that this might be the catalyst for a wave of democratization throughout the Arab world. The basic idea is that events in Tunisia will have a powerful demonstration effect (magnified by various forms of new media), leading other unhappy masses to rise up and challenge the stultifying dictatorships in places like Egypt or Syria. The obvious analogy (though not everyone makes it) is to the velvet revolutions in Eastern Europe, or perhaps the various "color revolutions" that took place in places like Ukraine or Georgia.
Color me skeptical. In fact, the history of world revolution suggests that this sort of revolutionary cascade is quite rare, and even when some sort of revolutionary contagion does take place, it happens pretty slowly and is often accompanied by overt foreign invasion," - Stephen Walt, Foreign Policy, January 16th, 2011.