Winners and losers of the revolution

When Zhou Enlai was asked in the 1970s about the historical significance of the French Revolution, he famously responded that it was "too soon to tell." Given that wise caution, it is undoubtedly foolhardy for me to try to pick the winners and losers of the upheaval whose ultimate implications remain uncertain. But at the ...

Walt-Steve-foreign-policy-columnist20
Walt-Steve-foreign-policy-columnist20
Stephen M. Walt
By , a columnist at Foreign Policy and the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.
John Moore/Getty Images
John Moore/Getty Images
John Moore/Getty Images

When Zhou Enlai was asked in the 1970s about the historical significance of the French Revolution, he famously responded that it was "too soon to tell." Given that wise caution, it is undoubtedly foolhardy for me to try to pick the winners and losers of the upheaval whose ultimate implications remain uncertain. But at the risk of looking silly in a few days (or weeks or months or years), I'm going to ignore the obvious pitfalls and forge ahead. Here's my current list of winners and losers, plus a third category: those for whom I have no idea.

THE WINNERS:
1. The Demonstrators
The obvious winners are the thousands of ordinary Egyptians who poured into the streets to demand Hosni Mubarak's ouster and insist on the credible prospect of genuine reform. For this reason, Mubarak's designated deputy, Omar Suleiman, had to go too. Some of the demonstrators' activities were planned and coordinated (and we'll probably know a lot more about it over time), but a lot of it was the spontaneous expression of long-simmering frustration. By relying on nonviolent methods, maintaining morale and discipline, and insisting that Mubarak had to go, the anti-government uprising succeeded where prior protest campaigns had failed. "People power" with an Arab face. And, oh yes: Google got a great product placement too. 

Read more.

When Zhou Enlai was asked in the 1970s about the historical significance of the French Revolution, he famously responded that it was "too soon to tell." Given that wise caution, it is undoubtedly foolhardy for me to try to pick the winners and losers of the upheaval whose ultimate implications remain uncertain. But at the risk of looking silly in a few days (or weeks or months or years), I’m going to ignore the obvious pitfalls and forge ahead. Here’s my current list of winners and losers, plus a third category: those for whom I have no idea.

THE WINNERS:
1. The Demonstrators
The obvious winners are the thousands of ordinary Egyptians who poured into the streets to demand Hosni Mubarak’s ouster and insist on the credible prospect of genuine reform. For this reason, Mubarak’s designated deputy, Omar Suleiman, had to go too. Some of the demonstrators’ activities were planned and coordinated (and we’ll probably know a lot more about it over time), but a lot of it was the spontaneous expression of long-simmering frustration. By relying on nonviolent methods, maintaining morale and discipline, and insisting that Mubarak had to go, the anti-government uprising succeeded where prior protest campaigns had failed. "People power" with an Arab face. And, oh yes: Google got a great product placement too. 

Read more.

Stephen M. Walt is a columnist at Foreign Policy and the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University. Twitter: @stephenwalt

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