One item that has gone relatively un-mentioned with the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt is that the issue of “colonialism” has finally been thrown into the dustbin.
As any viewer of this blog knows, the left and the third world have traditionally blamed virtually all of their woes on the colonialist powers or the United States which came in the vacuum after the colonialist powers left (less often mentioned is the actions of the USSR, since it does not fit their narrative). Either we supported the wrong side, gave them inappropriate borders, or authorized coups that took out the men that would have changed history, but it was always our collective fault.
The Arab world today is predominantly younger, with a very high percentage of their population under 25 years old. The population that is under 40 is even larger; and you’d have to be 40 or over to even remember much of life under the Shah of Iran or even Sadat. The youth in these countries, the broadest segment of the population, knows nothing but the current fossilized dictators that have ruled uninterruptedly during the course of their entire life.
Thus the leaders can blame Israel and the US and the colonialists but it buys them nothing because the streets know that these countries haven’t been significant actors during their lifetimes. All they know is 1) a small elite band of the rich and powerful control the state 2) secret police and thugs control their lives should they step out of line or demonstrate 3) nothing much is changing, except that it is getting worse with higher prices for basics and low prospects for formal employment.
No one knows the future – the forces of the dictatorships could re-assert control, the radical Islamic factions could take power and then hold it violently, or some sort of freer society could emerge. But at last we aren’t hearing the same old noise that this is all the fault of events that occurred decades ago.