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National Insecurity by David Rothkopf

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9. Leading from Behind

Fear those who are afraid of you.

—ARAB PROVERB

It is now common lore that the uprisings that swept the Arab world began in December 2010 when twenty-six-year-old Tunisian fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself aflame after a police officer seized his goods. That act in turn sparked ten days of demonstrations in a country where roughly a third of adult males, and even more of the youth population, were unemployed. By the end of December, demonstrations reached the capital city of Tunis, and within two weeks the country’s ruler for almost a quarter century, President Ben Ali, would flee the country.

But although the above is true, the crisis did not begin merely with Bouazizi. It had multiple roots. One was that the ...

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