Revolutionary challenges require a doctrine to deal with them. Monroe and Truman came up with theirs. And Brezhnev imitated them and imposed order in Eastern Europe. Even Sinatra got one when Gorbachev proclaimed the “I did it my way” Doctrine. At our office in Madrid, our press officer Javier García suggests that Europe has adopted the “Garfunkel Doctrine” (remember “Sound of Silence”?).
The truth is that Europe has not developed a doctrine to deal with changes in North Africa. Or rather, it has got one: the Zero Doctrine. It wants to influence without interfering, protest without upsetting, condemn without imposing sanctions, support without risking, participate without paying.
In the market, only Coca-Cola has been able to survive offering a product with no caffeine and no sugar. Europe’s risk aversion fits perfectly here: it wants to enjoy the Coke of democracy and human
It’s one thing to sit at a desk in a think tank, chewing on the end of a pencil and coming up with clever ideas. It’s quite another thing to get out in the field to look at things, ask questions, listen to people. That’s why four of ECFR’s policy fellows paid a research visit to Tunisia in the last week. Anthony Dworkin, Susi Dennison, Nicu Popescu and Nick Witney were there to assess the transition after the Jasmine Revolution, and think about how Europe can help their neighbours to the south.
All of them have written about their experiences since coming back – click the links on the names above to get through to their articles and blog posts. Nicu also provided a few cracking photos – including the one that I made into the ‘Europe and the Arab revolutions’ banner on the website, and the one on this post.
But no matter how good their articles were, I wanted to know more – and
Dear friends and supporters,
What happens after a leaderless revolution? That’s the question that four of our policy fellows were asking when they paid a research visit to post-revolutionary Tunisia in the last week. Anthony Dworkin, Nick Witney, Susi Dennison and Nicu Popescu were there to assess the transition and see what role the EU could play in the new Tunisia. The visit also led to a couple of articles and a podcast that have been added to a new section of our website dealing with Europe and the Arab revolutions (the photo that we’ve used was taken by Nicu on the trip).
A lot has been made of the implications for China of the current wave of revolutionary zeal in North Africa and the Middle East. From Shanghai, however, much of this seems overplayed; I have found few colleagues or friends who genuinely believe that this means much of anything for China. There are sporadic protests one hears about – the Shanghai one was very small – and in Beijing I understood that it was hard to tell how many actual protesters showed up in Wangfujing.
Having said all this, it seems clear that central government here is concerned about things. The press has waited until events have clearly reached a critical mass before coverage of a revolution becomes substantial (a sign that editors are waiting to see which way the political winds are blowing before they express a view). Net searches about things related to China and the revolutions remain sensitive (as in they
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ECFR's director, Mark Leonard, was interviewed by on Today, BBC Radio Four's flagship current affairs programme, this morning. Along with political analyst Danny Finkelstein, he discussed David Cameron's stance on the Arab revolutions, and the role that foreign policy can have in making and breaking British prime ministers. You can listen to the interview via the Today programme's website (at the end of the full programme; 2 hrs, 55 min, 15 secs in). Alternatively, here's the transcript:
Evan Davies (presenter): We’re clearly at one of those momentous turning points in foreign affairs at the moment, and don’t quite know where it’s going to end. But let’s reflect on the implications for UK policy and politics. Sometimes, these foreign policy moments make prime ministers and they sometimes break them. Mark Leonard is Director of the European Council on Foreign Relations and Danny
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