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MAY 2015


look to other kinds of allegiances, whether

it’s sectarian, tribal or other, to try to pro-

tect themselves.”

The Arab Spring failures were “a long

time in the making,” The Economist con- cludes in its July 5, 2014, article “Tethered by History.” It sees the Arab Spring being

a “region-wide rerun of the Algerian

experience,” where “a flurry of freedom

in the late 1980s gave way to a vicious

civil war in the 1990s that left as many as

200,000 dead and Algeria’s Islamists more

or less defeated, but not eradicated.”

With voices calling for reform almost

always too weak to effect change,



points out, only Tunisia has

emerged as truly changed: “Elsewhere

the result has been either a reprise of

the ancien régime, as in the Egypt of

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, or civil

war.” David Ignatius, writing in The Wash- ington Post on Jan. 27, opines that there

is not much the United States can do to

steer the course of the Arab Spring. “U.S.

military intervention hasn’t checked

the disintegration,” he writes, “nor has

American retreat.”

The conclusion to draw from this,

which he calls “so obvious we sometimes

overlook it,” is that “this history is being

written by the Arabs, not outsiders.”

Fawaz Gerges, a professor at the Lon-

don School of Economics, speaking Feb. 5 on “Here and Now” with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson on WBUR

in Boston, agrees but sees reason for


“There is no going back in the Arab

Middle East,” he says. “Setbacks are to be

expected. Counterrevolutionary forces are

doing their best to return to the old order,

but the psychology and the mood of the

Arab people has changed.”

Gerges calls for patience, saying that

revolution takes “decades,” not three or

four years. “It’s going to take some time,”

Gerges says, “for the dust to settle on

the battlefield.”

—Debra Blome, Associate Editor

William Faulkner,

Cold War Diplomat


ne of the stranger tasks certain For-

eign Service officers were charged

with during the Cold War was wrangling

William Faulkner, says Greg Barnhisel in

a Feb. 26 posting on The Vault , Slate’s history blog.

Faulkner, the Southern

writer and Nobel Prize

winner perhaps most

famous for his novels

As I Lay Dying



Sound and the Fury

, was

an important figure in

cultural diplomacy from

the mid-1950s to the early

1960s. He traveled exten-

sively through Latin Amer-

ica and Asia at the request

of the U.S. government, as

part of a public diplomacy

campaign to win hearts

and minds abroad, and

combat anti-Americanism

in areas vulnerable to

communist ideology.

William Faulkner.


Protesters hold a banner in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, February 2011.