From here, the revolutions we are witnessing in the Arab world were all unpredictable just two months ago. Yet they are all understandable.
What seems to underlie them all is official tyranny, oppression and police state tactics against the people.
As with all revolutions before them the catalysts that ignite them may be different but seem always characterized by a throwing down the gauntlet, where fear is transcended in an act (or acts) of defiance against the perceived oppressor that serves to set off the broader rebellion.
Sometimes the revolutions are snuffed out as happened in China in 1989 and Iran in 2009, the state too powerful and in both cases willing to kill its own people.
The Hungarian revolution in 1956, the Czech "spring" of 1968 was all put down by the willingness of the Soviet occupiers and Brezhnev to send in the tanks and end the uprisings. That didn't happen in 1989 when Gorbachev refused to squelch "Solidarity" in Poland, the tearing down of the Berlin Wall in East Germany, the execution of Ceausescu by the people in Romania, all acts that helped set in motion the eventual dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The key element in any revolution seems to be the army and the willingness of the generals to follow orders and turn on the people. In Tunisia and Egypt, the latest successful revolutions, the generals refused the order to fire on the people protesting against the regime. Both regimes eventually fell with the outcomes for true democracy still to be determined.
The reverberations they have caused are spreading to other Arab and Muslim states, the governments leaders scrambling to offer "reforms" (lifting emergency laws [holding people indefinitely without charges and allowing demonstrations], firing the cabinet, lowering food and energy costs, declaring they will not run again are considered bromides by the protestors as "too little and too late") while ordering their security forces and police to quell the protests (Bahrain, Iran, Yemen, Algeria, Jordan) with no end in sight. After seeing what has happened in Tunisia and Egypt the people are demanding a complete overhaul, the stepping down of the leader and an end to the police state. The "half measures" that could have possibly placated the people BEFORE Tunisia and Egypt won't do; not now.
With much of the Arab world aflame in people driven rebellions this writer pondered and wrote, "Where is our Revolutionary Fervor" (OPEDNEWS, February 14, 2011).
It was a rhetorical question of course. For in America revolution is not in the air.
There is oppression in the U.S. (joblessness and unemployment, millions facing foreclosure and bankruptcy, jobs being outsourced, the essential demise of domestic manufacturing with the closing of plants and factories) but it is uneven, in "pockets", different areas of the country or in neighborhoods and sections of cities and towns but it isn't widespread. The majority of people still have jobs, are still able to maintain mortgages. Many of these people may be fearful but still relatively comfortable. And the comfortable are not what revolutions are made of.
The "banksters" may get bailed out and feed at the public trough, our politicians may be sycophants, bankrolled by big moneyed and special interests to enact laws and regulations to the benefit of those interests (and against the peoples interests). The private health care and "big Pharma" industries may be profiteers while our endless wars, occupations and military bases worldwide justify the outrageous and unnecessary defense industry spending. Meanwhile the other big corporate interests also benefit from our war based economy. But for the relatively "comfortable" they seem unconcerned. To them it's "I've got a family to feed, kids to raise"leave me be. I don't want to hear it."
So in America, skepticism and dissent (never mind revolution) seems akin to the tree in the forest that falls and nobody hears it. If nobody heard it did it really happen?
We seem to look at the news of far away revolutions with a detached interest, something different than the titillation of celebrity gossip maybe, but with no real connection to our own lives.
But "Rome is burning folks. Didn't you get the memo?"