Murphy's Law: Short Term Solutions For Long Term Problems


February 27, 2016: It’s been noted that most of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings failed. This is attributed to the fact that the tradition of dictatorships in the Arab world is ancient, persistent and experience with democracy nearly non-existent. As a result of this the Arab governments have a proven tool kit of repressive measures they can employ when their subjects get desperate enough to actually revolt. Thus autocracies have won about 70 percent of the rebellions they have faced in the last few decades. Nearly half these “victories” were in effect stalemates that left the government in control but compromised. The methods used were brutal, often involving mass murder, kidnapping and other forms of terror. These measures create long-lasting resentments and a desire for revenge.

In contrast the Western traditions of dealing with armed rebellion evolved into something less brutal that strove more to win while also accommodating many legitimate grievances. This is how 75 percent of the communist sponsored uprisings between 1942 and 1965 were defeated. These Western victories were much less likely to leave the defeated side eager for a rematch. These uprisings included, Greek Civil War (1944-1949), Spanish Republican Insurgency (1944-1952), Iranian Communist Uprising (1945-1946), Philippine Huk War (1946-1954), Madagascan Nationalist Revolt (1947-1949), Korean Partisan War (1948-1953), Malayan Emergency (1948-1960), Sarawak/Sabah “Confrontation” (1960-1966), Kenyan Mau-Mau Rebellion (1952-1955 ), Cuban Revolution (1956-1958), Chinese Civil War (1945-1949), Indochina War (1945-1954). Only the last three were won by the rebels.

In the last half century there have been a lot more uprisings and the West has shown that it is better assess the situations dispassionately and get out if that seems to be the best long-term solution to what is often treated as a short term problem. These rebellions are rarely just about immediate problems but are triggered by longer term flaws. However, even in democracies expediency (settling for a quicker victory) often triumphs over wisdom (making more of an effort to address long-term problems.)




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