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Bonfire of the experts: The Arab uprisings and the Israeli-Palestinian question

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May 16, 2011 by happyhenry

Tony Klug analyses the current situation:

I was at a meeting recently where the head of the Foreign Office’s ‘Near East’ group openly confessed that “Many people in the Foreign Office were caught by surprise by what has been happening in the region”. To be fair, they are not alone in failing to see in advance what, in retrospect, is so obvious.

The same comment could be made about the most powerful intelligence agencies across the globe, the finest professors in the best universities, revered international diplomats and indeed the whole shebang of analysts, consultants and foreign policy wonks.

But then why should we expect anything different? When was the last time venerable experts foresaw any of the seismic events of recent years? Who, before it happened, predicted the impending release of the hitherto ‘terrorist’ Mandela and the rapid dismantling of the apartheid South African state? Who imagined the sudden crumbling of the Berlin Wall and the astonishing collapse of the Soviet Union and the other communist regimes of Eastern Europe? How many soothsayers got Northern Ireland right prior to the historic deal between its warring factions?

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