From the Editors
The “Arab Spring” that actually began in the dead of winter has spread from Tunisia to Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria…and the year only half over. As the media, policymakers, and global audiences struggle to make sense of changes that have inspired hundreds of millions to “just say no” to decades of dictatorship, a number of narratives have taken hold in the US—evident in remarks on cable news talk shows, at academic and policy symposia, and on Twitter—about precisely what is happening and what these massive crowds want. While elements of these narratives have some foundation in truth, they also present such a simplified view as to obscure crucial dimensions of the power struggles across the region. Below we unpack three of the most common narratives whose “truth” has become almost conventional wisdom, tossed out at cocktail parties and across coffee shops and metros. We aim to highlight what kinds of politics are made possible (and what kinds of challenges to power are foreclosed) as these narratives become part of the “common sense” that shapes our understanding of these extraordinary events.
Narrative #1: The Obama Administration has been behind the curve.
“The US government spent months watching from the sidelines until Obama crafted a vision with his May speech.”
Since January, the President and his National Security Council have gone to great pains to reassure all who are listening that US policy is rightly calibrated concerning the changes introduced by the popular uprisings against incumbent autocrats in the Middle East. The Administration, they argue, has advocated a case-by-case set of policies that sees the protests as opportunities to improve relationships in the region.
This article is now featured in Jadaliyya's edited volume entitled Dawn of the Arab Uprisings: End of An Old Order? (Pluto Press, 2012). The volume documents the first six months of the Arab uprisings, explaining the backgrounds and trajectories of these popular movements. It also archives the range of responses that emanated from activists, scholars, and analysts as they sought to make sense of the rapidly unfolding events. Click here to access the full article by ordering your copy of Dawn of the Arab Uprisings from Amazon, or use the link below to purchase from the publisher.
7 comments for "Three Powerfully Wrong--and Wrongly Powerful--American Narratives about the Arab Spring"
If you prefer, email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hot on Facebook
To understand the context and conceptualization of this revolution means first to understand whom this uprising was against, and not necessarily what this uprising was for.click | email | tweet
Jad NavigationView Full Map, Topics, and Countries »
Jadalicious / جدلشس
On the Road: An Exhibition by Paul Ayoub Geday http://t.co/TIbB4tMNGk
10 hours ago
Event: Angela Davis and Jadaliyya Co-Editor Noura Erakat on Mass Incarceration in the United States http://t.co/t7ruqokD6U
13 hours ago
Syria Media Roundup (April 16) http://t.co/JtSpY91QjJ via @jadaliyya
14 hours ago
DARS Media Roundup (April 16) http://t.co/p2uVSO4alj
18 hours ago
O.I.L. Media Roundup (16 April) http://t.co/d5RMjjiFqW
18 hours ago
Latest EntriesView All Entries »
- On the Road: An Exhibition by Paul Ayoub Geday
- Event: Angela Davis and Jadaliyya Co-Editor Noura Erakat on Mass Incarceration in the United States and Palestine (19 April, Evergreen State College)
- DARS Media Roundup (April 16)
- New Texts Out Now: Valeska Huber, Channelling Mobilities: Migration and Globalisation in the Suez Canal Region and Beyond
- O.I.L. Media Roundup (16 April)
- Syria Media Roundup (April 16)
- Arabian Peninsula Media Roundup (April 15)
- Turkey Media Roundup (April 15)
- The Strands of the Military Opposition in Syria: An Interview with Yasser Munif (Part 2)
- Adunis, Mistranslated (Part One)
- Last Week on Jadaliyya April (7-13)
- Egypt Media Roundup (April 14)
- Tartus in the Present Crisis: A Mirror of the Syrian Regime
- Good Faith or Good Tactics? How Some Anti-Divestment Groups Manipulate Public Discourse and Smear SJP
- بيروت.. أول مرّة
- Devletlesen AKP, Degismeyen Devlet?
- Reports Roundup (April 12)
- قصائد رلى الجردي
- O.I.L. Monthly Edition (March 2014)