After the uprising Egypt will need solutions: bring in the think tanks

28 January 2011

Today, political commentators around the world suggested that one way of another the Egyptian State had to address the grievance of its people. I didn’t expect to find many relevant links online but I gave it a go anyway.

A google search of think tanks and Egypt delivered quite a few mentions of Chatham House and Brookings. Also present was the International Crisis Group and a few newspaper mentions of think tanks’ opinions on the current situation in Egypt. Understandably, most of the think tanks featured and mentioned were addressing security and political issues, however what Egypt will need are new ideas to address people’s demands about daily live.

Thus the risk of underinvesting in these spaces for debate. Even in Pinochet’s Chile, think tanks were given somewhat free reign to convene and promote new ideas -not so initially, though. Think tanks are, after all, ¬†essential for the sustainability of any regime -democratic or totalitarian- as they provide governments with early warnings and options to address current and future challenges before they overwhelm them.

Of course, the proliferation of these organisations is likely to promote debate and by its nature this can undermine any authoritarian regime. It is not surprising then that even China has seen improvements in economic and (arguably to a much lesser extend) political freedoms.