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Democracy and Resource Curse by Michael L. Ross

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Michael L. Ross is a professor at the University of California at the department of Political Science (US). He authored this article with the sole interest of identifying factors that lead to autocracy, mainly in the Arab world. The political scientist observed various contemplations to this leadership trend. 

The author looked at the factors that border economic, social and political parameters. His view on the socio-economic and political ambit had some relative truth; although cannot be fully binding. Michael observed that from the economic perspective, presence of crude oil and other valuable minerals could play a major role in this scenario. This is after cross-checking most of the prominent civil strifes that lately have been taking place  in such areas. 

Crude oil is a precious and coveted commodity that every country wishes to have. Unfortunately, not everyone can. Professor Ross observed that states with plenty of it are the ones with rampant social disorders. He argues that such social unrests are manifestation of autocratic governments.   According to him, autocratic rule sets in after emergence of insatiable appetite for crude oil products in the world. There was increased demand for the commodity in 1970s, thereby making the global prices shoot up.

On the socio-political front, he observed that embargoes imposed on some Arab market players during the Israel-Arab war (1973) resulted in governments nationalizing their respective oil sectors. The foreign investors in this sector were kicked out; thereby creating room for incumbent regimes to plunder from the public coffers. They later used their loot to bribe their cronies, invest in vital social amenities and also buy the support of hardliners. The main goal was to retain leadership and power; which degenerated into absolute dictatorship. It also weakened the presence of civil-society.   

Conclusion and Recommendations

The writer concluded that the surge in prices of the commodity is due to huge consumption by major states like USA and China. He recommends reducing consumption and wealth declaration by states to alleviate this.

The Resilience of Arab Spring Monarchies

Weathering the Storm: Explaining the Resilience of Arab Monarchies in the Face of Arab Spring by Arianna Keyman

Introduction

Keyman looked at how some monarch dynasties survived in the storm of the Arab revolution. The author mainly focuses on the presumed stability of monarchs in the face of present defiance and open rebellion by their subjects. The truth of the matter, according to her, the current monarchy system is safer than the autocratic presidents elected on the democratic principles. The writer notes that and yet monarchies are the most autocratic forms of the government.

Arianna started the story by reminding the events that culminated in widespread protests experienced in the modern world. The young vegetable vender set himself on fire in Tunisia in the late 2010. He was allegedly protesting because of his frustration with the government for neglecting the needs of ordinary citizens. During that time, the world was experiencing the worst economic crisis of the recent years. His actions led to eruption of countrywide protests forcing the government to respond with excessive force. This angered the protesters, escalating the situation and eventually dislodging the regime. The situation later spread to neighboring countries.

The author was surprised  that autocratic democracies like Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen were swept away while dictatorial kingdoms like Saudi Arabia, UAE and Morocco managed to survive the onslaught. She explained that monarchies have a history of originality in the nation-building. The author also emphasized that some monarchs are spiritual leaders, hence are held in high esteem. Tampering with such religious figures could lead to great problems. The writer also sees some monarchs developing survival tactics by promising or giving lucrative incentives from huge oil earnings. Absolutism and the Resilience of Monarchy in the Middle East by Lisa Anderson

Monarchs continue to draw attention in some territories where they are recognized as absolute leaders. Anderson tries to analyze the origin and existence of monarchs to present state and the benefits associated with this kind of leadership. Of course he acknowledges that such leadership style still enjoys backing from some quotas, but is uncertain about its role in nation building as often alleged by the practitioners themselves.

Lisa has highlighted some of the hidden information about monarchies. The writer has revealed that almost all political setup had at one time embraced this kind of leadership. She confirms that at one time, big names like the Great Britain had such kind of governments. Others that had this form of rule are Germany and France. USA, as per the author’s words, from the onset abhors this kind of leadership.

Lisa intimates that most absolute monarchies are gradually diminishing with the few ones remaining in parts of Northern Africa, like Morocco, and majority in the Middle East. These include Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE. She is also of the view that such absolute monarchies are the weakest and ineffective constitutional structured systems. The author suggests that the absolute monarchies will soon disappear. The author connects monarchy to legitimacy, religion, and finally to traditions (practices); that’s why they still survive.

Lisa sees no point of trying to blend this system with other modern systems because she predicts collapse of this kind of leadership in the next couple of years. Secondly, absolute monarchy is perceived to be outdated. The writer confirms this when unveiling the America’s view of the modern Britain’s model; while clearly stating that the Americans seem not to cherish that.

Finally, Anderson views this system as being ineffective and non-responsive to the citizens.  

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