Tribes with Flags

Thomas Friedman has a worthwhile column in today’s NYT. He divides countries in the Middle East between “real countries” that have a long-time national identity–Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Iran–and those that have a colonially imposed national identity, “tribes with flags.” These include, he says, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrein, Libya, Jordan and others. These “tribes with flags” have no natural sense of national identity, and peace is only imposed on warring tribes by a strong-arm government. That’s why revolts in Tunisia and Egypt took hold, he says, while prospects for democracy in Libya, Bahrein, Yemen and Saudi Arabia are much bleaker. How much bleaker we can measure by remembering what it has cost, in Iraq, to coax a fragile, fractious democracy into existence.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: