Arab Spring Update: Freedom House's Arch Puddington on How 2012 Will Be Like 1989.

"As significant as 1989 when the Berlin wall came down, overwhelmingly the story of 2012 is centered in the Middle East,” says Freedom House's Arch Puddington. "People were inspired by events in Egypt, they started demanding their rights.” 

Puddington has helped record the long-overdue revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, and countries in the Freedom in the World 2012 index. Founded in 1941, Freedom House quantifies and ranks the political freedom and civil liberties of every country in the world as "Free," "Partly Free," or "Not Free." 

Though the Arab Spring has led some regimes to respond with arrests and killings, Puddington remains confident political rights and civil liberties will succeed in the longer run. Since the first Freedom in the World index was published in 1973, he notes, free countries have doubled in number and not-free countries have declined. In the 2012 edition, 87 countries are listed as Free, 60 as Partly Free, and 48 as Not Free.

About 4.55 minutes.

Interview by Matt Welch. Camera by Meredith Bragg and Joshua Swain; edited by Swain.

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  • ||

    Is Arch Puddington cooler than Benedict Cumberbatch?

  • Hugh Akston||

    I have never seen a man who looks more like his name than Arch Puddington.

  • Nigel Snufflepuff||

    I disagree, old bean!

  • Benedict Cumberbatch||

    I'd say so!

  • T||

    Sounds like the villain in an old food-themed after school special. Maybe voiced by Arnold Stang.

  • Trespassers W||

    On a completely unrelated topic, I've finally found a name for my gnome paladin. NWN4EVA!

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Though the Arab Spring has led some regimes to respond with arrests and killings, Puddington remains confident political rights and civil liberties will succeed in the longer run.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

  • Jeff||

    He's one credulous motherfucker, yeah.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "First you have the hostility to immigrants, especially from the Muslim world. And you're starting to see laws being passed in countries like Belgium and France that criminalize wearing head scarves and burkas and that sort of thing. Like to have them there to do the work, but they don't really regard them as French or as German or as Danes or whatever."

    Obviously there needs to be added a discussion of pushback to cultural assimilation for European immigrants. But more to the point, I think there might be a phenomenon at play here where Welch starts to look like his interview subject, as he appears to have gained about ten pounds by the end of this video, and probably needs a trip to the optometrist.

  • ||

    "Puddington remains confident political rights and civil liberties will succeed in the longer run."

    translation;
    " In spite of every bit of evidence to the contrary, in spite of no evidence to support my position, I am going to stick with it. Nothing can change my mind."

  • ||

    I guess the female reporters who were beaten and raped by the protesters wanting their rights would be a good indication of the rosy outcome of the Arab spring.
    Wait, I got that wrong. They were just showing 'the love'.

  • Paul||

    BTW: It's Springtime for Arabs now. Get with the times.

  • ||

    Most democratic revolutions end up in just replacing the people in charge, without changing the totalitarian method of government. This is historically a very accurate statement. Notice I say most. I actually hold out some hope for Tunisia. Syrian repression is being supported by Russia and China which have their own Muslim problems.

  • Paul||

    Because when you've had a government that's been telling people what to do for decades (or centuries), suddenly having a government that doesn't tell people what to do is extremist.

  • Newt Gingrich||

    Arab Spring Update: THEY hate our freedoms more than previously thought.

  • Paul||

    Though the Arab Spring has led some regimes to respond with arrests and killings, Puddington remains confident political rights and civil liberties will succeed in the longer run

    I don't share Puddington's optimism. Because Eastern Europe is not like the Middle East.

    Eastern European culture was not so different from western European culture- especially when that Eastern Eurpoean zone was essentially hacked off the geopolitical map by a large brick wall.

    So you had two relatively common cultures divided by a physical barrier. One culture was modern and enjoyed material goods where just over the fence one was backwards and suffered long lines and shortages.

    The Middle East's changes are more internalized. And the thing that complicates it further is that you've got varying factions trying to topple the existing power structures, but those factions want the results to look very different.

    For all the MSM's talk of Arab Street, I'm not convinced that the rank and file citizen in any of those middle eastern countries is interested in the kind of freedom and democracy we have in the west. And there's evidence that many eschew it.

  • Anonymous||

    About 4.55 minutes.

    Decimals do not work that way...

  • Sidd Finch||

    They like to have them there to do the work, but they don't regard them as French or as Germans or as Danes or whatever.

    The French, the Germans, the Danes and the whatevers have an identity that involves not dressing like ninjas.

    Tunisia is the number one positive story ... and it's potentially a model, and it's shown a kind of intelligent pragmatism as opposed to vengeance seeking in its attitude towards the old elites.

    Tunisians showed intelligent pragmatism and a lack of vengeance before the Arab Spring. Perhaps some of the Western cheerleaders should have noticed this before encouraging revolutions in places where the dictator is obviously less barbaric than the citizens.

  • ||

    "People were inspired by events in Egypt, they started demanding their rights.”

    Unfortunately, it turns out most of those people are Islamists, and they right they are demanding is the right to make damn sure nothing happens in Egypt that offends their Islamist sensibilities.

  • ||

    Exactly. They are talking about giving freedom to people that are anti-freedom.

    I laugh my ass off at the idiots that thought the Arab spring was going to be pro-freedom.

  • Realist||

    ^^^Thsi^^^

  • Muad Dib||

    I had read, unsubstantiated, that the new Egyptian government legalized the death penalty for apostates and adulterers by a whopping 86% majority. Such a well of enlightenment!

  • Paul||

    Baby steps... baby steps.

  • Alan||

    Yes. Baby steps.

    There are many problems with Arabic culture, but they are not so different from what was common in the U.S. a century ago. We hear about barbaric punishments for minor crimes, we don't hear about the local version of due process which frequently ends up in almost never meting out the more extreme punishments.

    Having traveled widely, I can say that most Arabs are much like everyone else, frequently putting on a show of piety for the sake of the pious members of their community, but being in fact far more pragmatic and decent than one might expect.

    I am not surprised that we should see some backwards steps, but when societies see the consequences of their extreme beliefs they frequently end up revising their beliefs, or at least the expression of those beliefs. All in all, I see these as growing pains.

  • Paul||

    There are many problems with Arabic culture, but they are not so different from what was common in the U.S. a century ago

    Unfortunately much of what goes on in the Middle East today is not much different that what was going on in the rest of the world several centuries ago.

  • Walter Tyler||

    It all depends on the definition of freedom. If you mean that the Moslems in Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Libya, etc. have become more free, yes, they have - the freedom to impose a Taliban-style ultra-fundamentalist theocracy on the nations concerned.

    The freedom to be free of Western influences, the freedom to beat and kill their wives and daughters, the freedom to have Christian slaves, oh, the freedoms go on and on!
    Free, free at last to be a sixth century barbarian!

  • Realist||

    Pudding Boy equates Democracy with freedom. He is full of shit...not pudding. And any organization that is associated with FDR has a problem from the get go.

  • Bob||

    Somebody tell puddytat about the NDAA,SOPA, the FED and the Enemy Expatriation Act. His eyeballs will blow right through those glasses.

  • Bob||

    Oh, and give him a copy of Nassim Taleb's "The Black Swan of Cairo". Freedom may come eventually, but not before the world is bathed in blood. It's sick and terribly tragic really.

  • han||

    As significant as 1989 when the Berlin wall came down, overwhelmingly the story of 2012 is centered in the Middle East

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