Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The cult of stability in Central Asia

In the article The Curse of Stability in Central Asia FP writes the following explanation for the endurance of the dictatorships there: Stability is a value cherished by most Central Asians, and those who lived through the Soviet collapse and the economic turmoil and lawlessness that accompanied it tend to be wary of political change. "Peace," or "calm" (tinch in Turkic languages, tinji in Tajik), is deeply valued, particularly in places like Tajikistan that have endured bloody civil strife, as social scientist John Heathershaw notes. Moreover a key part of tinji, he says, is "a strong aversion to the political sphere." All political actions -- joining a party, promoting a cause -- can be seen as an affront to peace; in Central Asian dictatorships, all actions can be politicized and all politics can be punished. Thus the social pressure to maintain tinji -- and the fear of government reprisals that may harm the whole community -- is strong enough that citizens deeply unhappy with their plight are reluctant to express it.

It raises the question whether America's "pro-democracy" wars in Iraq, Libya and (by proxy) Syria are not in essence the exact opposite.

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