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Marzouki returned home after Ben Ali’s ouster and was elected president by the country’s Constituent Assembly. Love them or hate them, America’s ultimate power couple are also its most effective advocates for liberal internationalism: a vision that government can build prosperity at home and promote democracy and development abroad without demonizing the successful or needlessly antagonizing other countries. election year that often felt like Randian revanchism vs.A committed secularist, Marzouki, who is overseeing the writing of a new constitution, insists that Islamist parties must play a role in Tunisia’s governance, though he has also been willing to stand up to them when they overreach. It’s a different kind of American exceptionalism, based on more than just firepower. opportunistic populism on economics and chest-thumping aggression vs.
If anyone can guide Tunisia through its transition to democracy — and hopefully create a model for a troubled region — it’s Marzouki, who just might have the right combination of tenacity and levelheadedness to see the country through. In an ironic twist, Hillary Clinton — once seen as the calculating cynic to Barack Obama’s idealistic optimist — has emerged as one of the Obama administration’s most forceful advocates for human rights and democracy. But she has also added hardheaded global tactician to her portfolio, as when she spearheaded tense negotiations in China this past spring for the release of dissident Chen Guangcheng (No. With a 66 percent approval rating, she’s a lot more popular than her boss these days and has taken the ups and downs of the Arab Spring — which she accurately predicted at a time when many others succumbed to starry-eyed wishful thinking — as proof that her brand of pragmatic politics harnessed to global star power can be a recipe for American restoration.
In 2012, the hopes for the Arab Spring began fading into cynicism as the world watched Syria descend into civil war, while the region’s nascent democracies struggled with their newfound freedom.
But, meanwhile, one of the most remarkable and unexpected political reversals of our time has unfolded on the other side of the globe: Burma, long among the world’s most repressive dictatorships, began to reform under the leadership of two very unlikely allies.
For nearly 20 years, dissident Aung San Suu Kyi was sealed under house arrest by Burma’s paranoid military junta, which had drawn an iron curtain over the country since 1962.
Now she’s a duly elected member of the country’s parliament — and it’s partly thanks to reformist President Thein Sein, a former general often described as an awkward, bookish bureaucrat.
To the astonishment of many, Thein Sein began loosening restrictions on free speech and opening the economy after coming to power in 2011.
This year, as the United States restored diplomatic ties with Burma (which the junta renamed Myanmar in 1989) and eased travel and economic sanctions, his government curbed censorship of the media and freed hundreds of political prisoners.Aung San Suu Kyi, the soft-spoken, iconic political activist whom devotees call simply “the Lady,” may not seem like an obvious partner for Thein Sein, but she has become one by doing what few legends of her stature can: embracing the messy pragmatism of politics.Although Burma’s struggles are far from over — she has warned that international investment has been too rapid, and ethnic violence is escalating — the willingness of both the Lady and the general to embrace short-term compromise and foster long-term reconciliation in what was only recently one of the world’s most isolated countries is something to celebrate.Fittingly, Aung San Suu Kyi finally was able to accept her 1991 Nobel Peace Prize in June.She used the occasion to remind the world of those like her, who struggle in the most forlorn places: “To be forgotten too is to die a little.It is to lose some of the links that anchor us to the rest of humanity.” It is a sentiment still felt from Aleppo to Havana, Pyongyang to Tehran, but also, as Aung San Suu Kyi and Thein Sein have shown, one that doesn’t need to be permanent.