Originally published 07/12/2013
Peter N. Stearns
Analogy is always tempting amid contemporary uncertainties. It can also be distracting or misleading.From the outlet of the Arab spring, drawing parallels with 1848 in Europe has offered potential insights. Here are two situations in which revolution spread quite rapidly across a region, though of course not uniformly, and in which claims about human rights and political representation loomed large.Other connections now suggest themselves, two years into the process. Most obviously, the 1848 revolutionaries, in centers like Berlin, failed (like their counterparts in Egypt) to secure the military or provide reliable alternatives to it. This would haunt the revolution then, as it is doing today. 1848, again in centers like Prussia, was also bedeviled by tensions between social and political goals, on the one hand, and other ideologies (nationalism then, Islamism now?), which ultimately hampered revolutionary drive.
Originally published 03/25/2013
Bernard Weiner, a poet, playwright, photographer and Ph.D. in government & international relations, is co-founder and co-editor of The Crisis Papers website (www.crisispapers.org). For two decades, he was a writer/editor with the San Francisco Chronicle. To comment: firstname.lastname@example.org .So here we are in the Spring of 2013, nearly five months after Barack Obama's re-election and the Senate added new liberal members, and not much has changed. And it doesn't look like anything major will change.
Originally published 01/22/2013
BEIJING — It’s a provocative idea — and a disturbing one. The world in 2013 looks “eerily” like the world in 1913, writes Charles Emmerson, a senior research fellow at Chatham House.Substitute the United States for the United Kingdom, and China for Germany, and the parallels are fairly clear.“The leading power of the age is in relative decline, beset by political crisis at home and by steadily eroding economic prowess,” Mr. Emmerson writes in “Eve of Disaster,” a piece in Foreign Policy magazine.“Rising powers are jostling for position in the four corners of the world, some seeking a new place for themselves within the current global order, others questioning its very legitimacy. Democracy and despotism are locked in uneasy competition.In his essay, Mr. Emmerson notes that “the United States in 2013 may not be a perfect analogue for Britain in 1913 (nor China in 2013 a perfect analogue for Germany in 1913).” But, he says, “The world of 1913 — brilliant, dynamic, interdependent — offers a warning.”...
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