What to Read on the Tunisian Revolution

The Brutal Truth About Tunisia — Robert Fisk

It’s the same old problem for us in the West. We mouth the word “democracy” and we are all for fair elections –providing the Arabs vote for whom we want them to vote for.

Neocon “Human Rights” Enthusiasts Notably Silent on Tunisia — Daniel Luban

What explains this glaring disparity? The answer is too obvious to need much elaboration: Iran is a rival of the U.S., and more particularly Israel, whereas Tunisia’s President Ben Ali has been a U.S. collaborator in the war on terror.

Why the Tunisian Revolution Won’t Spread — Stephen M. Walt

In fact, the history of world revolution suggests that this sort of revolutionary cascade is quite rare, and even when some sort of revolutionary contagion does take place, it happens pretty slowly and is often accompanied by overt foreign invasion.

Why Tunisia’s Revolution Is Islamist-Free — Michael Koplow

Unlike in Egypt, Jordan, Algeria, and most other secular Arab autocracies, the main challenge to the Tunisian regime has not come from Islamist opposition but from secular intellectuals, lawyers, and trade unionists. The absence of a strong Islamist presence is the result of an aggressive attempt by successive Tunisian regimes, dating back over a half-century, to eliminate Islamists from public life.

Best of the Week: September 12-18, 2010

10. Freedom, Democracy, and Human Rights in Syria — Robert Fisk
9. When the Economy Needs a Brave and Smiley Face — Tyler Cowen
8. State and Local Public Employees Undercompensated — Economic Policy Institute and The Shortcomings of Using States for Federal Macroeconomic Fiscal Policy — Robert P. Inman
7. Stealing Newman — Garry Wills and Iraq’s Ignored Victims — Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick
6. The Two Categories of American Corporations and Their Politics — Robert Reich and When Everybody Exports, Nobody Wins — Simon Kennedy
5. Lessons from the Great Depression — Kevin O’Rourke and Study Finds CEO Salaries Increase with Layoffs — Nadia Prupis
4. This Is Basel III?? — Richard Smith and Third Time’s the Charm? and Risk and Regulation — Noah Millman
3. Why We Can’t Ignore Growing Income Inequality, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, and Part 9 — Timothy Noah
2. Take a Walk on the Supply Side: Tax Cuts on Profits, Savings, and the Wealthy Fail to Spur Economic Growth — Michael Ettlinger & John S. Irons
1. Does the U.S. Really Want Talks with the Taliban to Succeed? — Conn Hallinan
BONUS: We Only Trust Experts If They Agree with Us — Christie Nicholson

Best of the Week: September 5-11, 2010

10. Liability and Excessive Risk Taking: Historical Evidence from Britain’s Banks — Richard S. Grossman & Masami Imai and Mortgage Rates and Home Prices — David Leonhardt
9. Free Speech Helped Avert Quran Burning — Jack M. Balkin, They Used to Burn Catholic Churches, Now They Burn Mosques — Juan Cole, and Catholics, Muslims, and the Mosque — John T. McGreevy & R. Scott Appleby
8. Is Chinese Mercantilism Good or Bad for Poor Countries? — Dani Rodrik
7. Did the Federal Government Create the Great Divergence? Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4and Part 5 — Timothy Noah and It’s Not the Party; It’s the Policies — Robert Pollin
6. The Specter Haunting the Senate — Michael TomaskyPeople Don’t Listen to the President — Ezra Kleinand Waves Are for Surfing — Daniel Hopkins
5. Health Care: The Disquieting Truth — Arnold Relman and Why the ER Is So Crowded — Ezra Klein
4. The Crime Wave That Shames the World — Robert Fisk
3. Insights from the Afghan Field — Anatol Lieven and Top Ways 9/11 Broke Islamic Law — Juan Cole
2. Hard Times for Workers on Labor Day 2010 and Holding Wal-Mart Accountable — Harold Meyerson, Confessions of a Serial Liberty-Reducer — Peter Dorman, and Why Obama Is Proposing Whopping Corporate Tax Cuts, and Why He’s Wrong — Robert Reich
1. Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds — Michael Lewis
BONUS: Keynes’s Conference and Morgenthau’s Dream — Eric Rauchway and How FDR’s Concessions Saved the Social Security Act — David M. Kennedy

Quote(s) of the Day: Sayed Hassan Nasrallah & Robert Fisk

Here’s what Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, the chairman of Hizbollah, said to me when I asked him to explain the mind of a suicide bomber. “Think of a person being in a sauna bath for a long time. He is very thirsty and tired and hot and he is suffering from the effects of a high temperature. Then he is told that if he opens the door, he can go into a quiet, comfortable room, drink a nice cocktail and hear classical music. Then he will open the door and go through without hesitation.”

That’s definitely in the “Ouch!” painful-truth bracket…

— Robert Fisk (The Independent)

Best of the Month: March 2010

10. What Makes Chechen Women So Dangerous? — Robert A. Pape, Lindsey O’Rourke, & Jenna McDermit, Lady Gaga vs. the Occupation — Thomas Hegghammer, and Hating Us for our Degeneracy — Daniel Larison
9. Study: Two-Thirds of Boys in Afghan Jails Are Brutalized — Gareth Porter, Iraqi Children’s Growth Stunted by War — BBC News, Night Raids Belie McChrystal’s New Image — Gareth Porter, and Gen. McChrystal: We’ve Shot “an Amazing Number of People” Who Were Not Threats — Justin Elliott
8. Taking Sides — John Mearsheimer and Top Ten Reasons East Jerusalem Does Not Belong to Jewish-Israelis — Juan Cole
7. 10 Questions for Finance Reformers — Barry Ritholtz and The Lone Star Secret — Alyssa Katz
6. Cultural Change Is Key to Bank Reform — Justin Fox, Greeks, Romans, and Financial Reform — Paul Krugman, and The Source of Global Trade Imbalances — Johanna Mollerstrom
5. As Things Get Worse in Pakistan, the Optimism Continues to Soar — Robert Fisk, Pakistan to America: What Have You Done for Us Lately? — Arif Rafiq, Into the Terrifying World of Pakistan’s “Disappeared” — Robert Fisk, and Don’t Forget India — Nikolas K. Gvosdev
4. The Arab Tomorrow — David B. Ottaway, Once Again, a Nation Walks Through Fire to Give the West Its “Democracy” — Robert Fisk, The Oil Curse — Christopher Dickey, The Political Resource Curse — Fernanda Brollo, Tommaso Nannicini, Roberto Perotti, & Guido Tabellini, and The Political Limits to Globalization — Daron Acemoglu & Pierre Yared
3. Fiscal Policies in “Normal” and “Abnormal” Recessions — Paul De Grauwe
2. How to Combat Modern Slavery — Kevin Bales
1. “The Evil Scourge of Terrorism”: Reality, Construction, Remedy — Noam Chomsky and A Curious History of the CIA — Jane Mayer
BONUS: Setting Congress’s Sights on Next Target — Anthony W. Orlando