While again hundred thousands of Egyptians show their defiance of the old regime at Cairo’s Tahrir Square and worker protests have broken out in several Egyptian cities, Washington and London still follow a pipe dream of a gradual transition from Hosni Mubarak to a more or less democratic, yet by all means secular new government. However, the web of Western diplomatic moves might turn into a Gordian knot as Egypt 2011 shows analogies to Tehran in 1978. Nations resemble Tolstoy’s families: every one is unhappy in its own way. And yet, when people’s harm escalates and they take matters in their own hands, the differences fade and clear patterns emerge. One such pattern stipulates that revolutions are rarely isolated instances …
Amidst a depressing assessment of the ruin wrought by Pakistan’s floods, The Economist nevertheless pronounced a vote of confidence in the country’s survival: “Pakistan is not about to collapse: a prospect first aired at its bloody creation and dusted off for every war, coup and calamity that has followed.” (Leader, 18-24 September 2010). Indeed, India, now much feted as an “emerging power” had also been written off by many at its amputated start. So had Bangladesh when it came into being in 1971, famously dismissed by Henry Kissinger as a “basket case”. All three have managed to survive endless conflict, poor governance and natural disasters, and some of their citizens have notched up world-class achievements in a variety of fields, …
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