Paris: The Beirut of Europe?
Michael J. Totten quips, “They say Beirut is the Paris of the Middle East. Does that mean Paris is the Beirut of Europe? Or is that an insult to Beirut?”
More seriously, he observes,
The Lebanese people threw off the yoke of Syrian occupation, oppression, and de facto annexation while committing no violence. The Western model of civil disobedience and protest worked beautifully and, more important, it worked rapidly.
The disgruntled of Paris, on the other hand, are inviting a brutal crackdown from a state infinitely less oppressive that the Syrian Baath regime. While some parts of the Middle East import liberal Ã¢€œWesternÃ¢€ political ideas into their culture, some parts of Europe import pathologies from the illiberal places in the Middle East and North Africa. Ah, the ironies of globalization.
ItÃ¢€™s slightly bizarre to watch Europe explode from the tranquility of Beirut. But IÃ¢€™m getting used to it.
More than slightly bizarre, I’d say. My bet is that Western Europe will continue to be, generally, a safer place than the Arab Middle East. But, as democratic norms spread in that region while Europe struggles with the downsides of social democracy, that won’t necessarily be the case down the road.