Delayed Effects: The Arab Spring

Published June 20, 2012 | By Nate Haken

In analyzing the Arab Spring, metaphors matter. If it was a seasonal awakening of democracy we should throw open the windows, that is, welcome it. If it was a contagion of unrest, then we should board up the doors, i.e., control it. If it was a pressure cooker blowing its top, the response should be cautious and deliberate; in other words, we should manage it. The Failed States Index (FSI) does not conclusively answer the question of which metaphor is most apt, though CAST, the methodology behind the index would tend to preference the last one, with its basic construct of pressures and institutional capacities as a theoretical framework for understanding state fragility and failure.