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Weekly Roundup

The ruins of Ani. A photo gallery [1] of the medieval Armenian Bagratuni capital [2].

Illiberal democrats vs. undemocratic liberals. Nick Ottens finds [3] some common themes in the political upheavals in Egypt, Ukraine, Thailand, and Turkey.

Egypt’s dictatorial institutions. Nathan Brown looks [4] at the workings of post-coup Egypt’s institutions, and discusses the cases of Amr Hamzawy and Emad Shahin :

The conclusion from their recent troubles might seem to be clear: Egypt has entered an even harsher period in which centralized totalitarianism brooks no dissent from a terrorized society.

But actually, the problem may be a bit different—and perhaps more difficult to resolve. Egypt’s political affliction is not one dictatorial person but a host of dictatorial institutions, and much of Egyptian society is a happy participant rather than cowering victim in the wave of repression.

Commemorating and reassessing the origins and effects of WWI. Peter Clarke reviews [5] several books on WWI, including Richard Ned Lebow’s counterfactual history Archduke Franz Ferdinand Lives! [6]:

In fact – or rather, in counter-fact – there would have been no European war.

So far, so plausible. But Lebow is concerned with projecting the consequences far into the future, along lines of causation that then become increasingly tenuous, since each fork in the road is premised on not having taken some previous forks. The author is well aware of this. Not only does he imagine a “best plausible world” – no Soviet takeover, no Nazi regime, no Holocaust – but he also gives us worst-case scenarios. Either way, we soon lose sight of the immediacy of the first world war itself and plunge into some far-reaching speculations, great and small alike.

The State of the Union is irrelevant. Gene Healy explains [7] why, and I agree [8].

The ever-changing arguments of the opponents of diplomacy with Iran. Paul Pillar describes [9] the “chameleonic” nature of the Iran hawks trying to sabotage negotiations. Here [10] is my response.

4 Comments (Open | Close)

4 Comments To "Weekly Roundup"

#1 Comment By Thymoleontas On January 31, 2014 @ 6:03 pm

Any word on the recent flair-up Nagorno-Karabakh?

#2 Comment By carl lundgren On January 31, 2014 @ 6:47 pm

I haven’t read Lebow’s book although it is up my alley. However, if he assumes the Archduke’s murder was the cause of WWI, he is barking up the wrong tree. That was just the excuse for WWI.

#3 Comment By a spencer On January 31, 2014 @ 8:40 pm

Thanks for the Ani photos. I explored the options of getting out to the frontier to see it a few years ago. Of course it can be done, but…

I guess it really is just lip service when the idea is occasionally floated of opening the Armenia-Turkey border, which would (selfishly) make things a lot easier for travelers who want to explore the region. Conspiratorially, maybe the Georgians play a role, since the closure helps their tourist industry, at least a little. And if relations with Iran normalize, that whole area would be a boon for US, UK and Canadian off-the-beaten trackers. One can dream.

#4 Comment By James Canning On February 1, 2014 @ 2:23 pm

Photos of the ruins of Ani are not to be missed!