Final Blog Prompt (Post Between Now and End of Term)

First, sorry for the delay in getting this up. In exchange, let’s make this simple, and allow you all to post an answer anytime between now and the final paper due date.


What was the most interesting thing you learned in this class? What, if anything, do you think you learned about democracy and democratization what might prove useful to you in your future life, as a student or otherwise?

Blog Prompt for 4/10/13

Here, I’d like to ask you a question that for many of you (non-Americans in particular) will be challenging, and will invite a great deal of cynicism. I ask you to be thoughtful, and to take it seriously in light of the Lynch readings.

To what extent does a freer (more democratic) but also more Islamic North Africa and Middle East serve American interests?

Blog Prompt for 3/8/13

In the articles for Monday, we see a pair of arguments written prior to the events of January and February 2011 that explain why the Middle East and North Africa have been particularly resistant to democratization. Indeed, authoritarian rule has been remarkably durable in the Arab world since the 1960s, and the events of the “Arab Spring” took much of the academic world by surprise. So, why were autocratic regimes so successful at fending off democratization until 2011, and what changed?

Blog Prompt for 4/3/13

In the book by Marc Lynch on the “Arab Uprisings” of 2011-12, the first several chapters seek to outline the underlying political and social conditions across the region in the years prior to the wave of protest in hope of identifying some possible causes or explanations for why the revolutions took place where and when they did. What, in Lynch’s view, were the key developments across the Arab world that made revolution “possible” in 2011-12? How, if at all, do these conditions resemble those described by Beissinger in the successful “Color Revolution” countries a decade earlier?

Blog Prompt for 4/1/13

In the readings for both last Wednesday and this Monday, we’ve encountered discussions of the role of protest and direct action against authoritarian regimes in getting to a successful democratic transition. But where the work of Schmitter and O’Donnell suggest that protest is merely the starting point for a transition, and that negotiation and “pacting” with existing members of the regime are necessary to ensure the long-term survival of the new order, Kuran and Beissinger propose a genuinely revolutionary model, in which protest and mass action succeed on their own in overthrowing old regimes.

My question then is this: Why do protests work to overthrow regimes in some places and not in others? Does a successful protest movement (like the one in Serbia that overthrew Milosevich) only work against a certain type of regime, or are their strategies truely “modular”?

Research Journal #8

After getting my revisions from my partner, I have made some necessary changes and continued my reading. I have roughly 2-3 more books which will be easy to get out of the way. I am excited to start on a more full version of my draft. I do feel though that I might need to reword/rework the question that I initially asked. Finding the balance between African and United States analysis is a but difficult. I almost feel as if I would rather cover most of the United States state formation and patronage etc., then supplement the material with case studies from Africa, and discussions about overarching African political trends. This setup seems to be the best route, as it showcases my readings on the United States and what I learned there but also has an African context. The comparative section of the paper is what I look forward to the most.

Blog Prompt for 3/27/13

Reminder…everyone posts for Wednesday.

Assume for a moment that you are either:

1) Bashar al-Assad, the long ruling president of Syria


2) one of the leaders of the ongoing anti-Assad rebellion.

If you are Assad, your goal is to stay in power as long as possible while giving up as little as possible in concessions to your opponents.  If you are a protester or rebel, your goal is to overthrow Assad or force him to resign, while ensuring that power passes to an elected government (we will, for the moment, assume that you’re not a committed Islamist looking to establish the sharia and an Islamic state).   Using the Schmitter and O’Donnell reading as your guide, please explain what your best strategy would be for realizing your goals.