Mideast bowling for tyrants

As the Dude, Donny or any “Big Lebowski” fan can tell you, it is a blast smashing bowling pins to the hardwood; and right now, millions in the Middle East are enjoying a similar sport called bowling for tyrants.

Usually only one King Pin is targeted, but it can take a lot of balls to knock him down. And yet, angry mobs there are rolling strike after strike in the name of freedom and democracy.

It is a triumph for the White House, which was savaged for playing it so safe on engagement that a gutter ball seemed certain. It is inspiring for many young Americans who enjoy a Facebook-Koolaid kinship with young folks the world over, especially when it comes to pushing the Old Guard off to the nursing home or a war crimes trial.

But the pin-setting machine is whirring even as the protestors are posting their victorious profile pics, and you can bet your league shirt new King Pins are preparing to take a stand. Why?

Many of these countries have one key industry and are wracked by joblessness. That equation has always made it easy for tyrants to arise: Control that one resource, and you control the wealth and power of the nation.

The protestors seem to lack any clear strategy for what they will do with their newfound power. Sure, they’ll hold elections — but absent rapid economic improvements, this too can leave the door wide open for new dictators to hijack their revolutions.

And lastly, women still have limited influence and rights in many of these communities. Here is a simple test for whether a country can be truly Democratic. If women are relegated primarily to child-bearing and family-caring, it is usually a sign of an economy and health system that can’t survive without half the population in this role. And when that many people are forced to respect such an imposed foul line, tyrants know that much of their work is already done.

I’m not saying there is no cause for celebration. What I am saying is that even though some of the King Pins are gone, the circumstances that brought them to the front of the pin set remain; and in a long tournament, even a string of strikes does not necessarily take the trophy.

– CNN’s Tom Foreman is a regular on “AC360°”/ www.ac360.com and “The Situation Room.”


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