Salient to Investors:

Fareed Zakaria said:

  • Tunisia is more developed, more urban, more literate, and more globalized than Egypt, and has a more diverse civil society, stronger labor unions, civic associations, professional groups.
  • Tunisia’s relative success suggests there is nothing inherent in Islam or Arab society that makes it impossible for democracy to take root there.
  • Islam has been compatible with peace and progress and is compatible with violence just like all religions.
  • The greatest problem with government regulations is not that they are good or bad, but that they are eternal – once in place, lobbies form to sustain them and so they are rarely modified or eliminated. The future has few lobbies for its cause.
  • Google says 92% of Turkey’s Internet users use social media versus over 40% of close to 50 countries.
  • Tehran is clean, bustling and everything works.

Tarek Masoud said Tunisia’s success and Egypt’s failure at democracy has less to do with the quality of its Islamists than with deep differences in their political environments.

Samuel Huntington said a country can only be said to be a consolidated democracy when there have been two peaceful transitions of power.

Sam Harris said:

  • 20% of Muslims worldwide have values relating to human rights and free speech that are really in zero sum contest with our own.
  • Jihad is not an invention of the 20th century. Islam has been spread by the sword for over 1,000 years.

Bernard-Henri Levy said:

  • The dispute between the Sunnis and the Shias in Iraq and Syria is not a dispute between Sunni and Shia but between democrats and non-democrats, between enlightenment and obscurantism, and a world battle, ideological battle.
  • Arabs and Muslims cannot continue to blame everything on America, which is not guilty of all the sins of the world.

Rashid Khalidi at Columbia University said:

  • The a Muslim or Middle Eastern problem will involve the US and other countries because it is partly due to Western intervention – the US invasion of Iraq created the situation.
  • The US destroyed the entire Iraqi the entire structure of government, more so than was done in Nazi Germany.
  • Iraq is a political problem in need of a political solution.
  • The US has to deal with Russia and Iran – Syria’s backers – in a rate politic, non-ideological fashion.

Larry Lessig at Harvard Law School said:

  • Candidates who wants to run for Congress have to raise an incredible amount of money – funded by a tiny fraction of America, say 0.05%. Akin to the two-stage process in Hong Kong. Candidates spend 30 to 70% percent of their time calling these funders, who are not the people, thus corrupting governance – Republicans and Democrats alike find it impossible to get what they want out of their government.
  • The problem is not the spending but the fundraising. Wall Street has taken the lead in funding candidates for Congress. Many funders are people who want special tax breaks or renewals of special tax breaks.
  • Simplifying the tax code or dealing with climate change or real health care reform is impossible until we change the way we fund elections.
  • Funding reform is seeing incredible progress, especially among Republicans who recognize the need to change to get back to a government that can actually work.

Anthony Bourdain said:

  • Iran was extraordinary, heartbreaking, confusing, inspiring, and very different from the Iran I expected.
  • Iranians were outgoing and welcoming to strangers to a degree matched in very few places, including Western Europe and allied nations.

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