Since the Arab Spring began in late 2010, rulers in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia have been ousted while other upris­ings have spread throughout the Arab world — cap­ti­vating the globe’s atten­tion and forcing world leaders to deter­mine what, if any, inter­ven­tion by the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity is nec­es­sary, par­tic­u­larly the use of force.

On Friday, a group of renowned inter­na­tional affairs experts dis­cussed these issues and many others to kick off the 4th Global Lec­ture Series, held at North­eastern. The first group of pan­elists included Denis Sul­livan, director of Northeastern’s Middle East Center for Peace, Cul­ture and Devel­op­ment and pro­fessor of polit­ical sci­ence and inter­na­tional affairs; Rolf Schwarz from NATO’s Polit­ical Affairs and Secu­rity Policy Divi­sion; and Hisham Fahmy, chief exec­u­tive officer of the Amer­ican Chamber of Com­merce in Egypt.

Inter­na­tional involve­ment has been more preva­lent in some coun­tries than others; NATO led an inter­na­tional coali­tion last year in Libya, while the Gulf Coop­er­a­tion Council bro­kered a deal for Yemen’s pres­i­dent to step down. At Friday’s panel dis­cus­sion, Schwarz asserted the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity bears some level of respon­si­bility but stressed that the “engine of change” should be first and fore­most domestic.

There must a domestic bar­gain between what cit­i­zens want and expect from their states in terms of secu­rity, the pro­vi­sion of wel­fare and polit­ical rep­re­sen­ta­tion,” he said.

Denise Garcia, assis­tant pro­fessor of polit­ical sci­ence and inter­na­tional affairs at North­eastern, orga­nized the day’s events with sup­port from Gerard Loporto, LA’73, and his family. Miguel de Corral — a third-​​year inter­na­tional affairs major who worked under Schwarz on co-​​op last year at the NATO Defense Col­lege in Rome ini­ti­ated by Garcia — mod­er­ated the morning panel. De Corral said it remains unclear whether a polit­ical renais­sance char­ac­ter­ized by democ­racy is occur­ring in the region, or whether the tumul­tuous period is instead leading to nuanced forms of author­i­tarian rule.

All these coun­tries are on a very dif­fi­cult path to rebuilding or reforming their eco­nomic and polit­ical sys­tems. No country in the region has been unaf­fected by the events of the Arab Spring,” he said.

Sul­livan said a key lesson learned from post-​​9/​11 for­eign policy is that the world com­mu­nity must take a mea­sured approach in the Arab world to inter­ven­tion and state-​​building. He noted that in Baghdad, where the Arab League recently hosted its first summit in two decades, unstable con­di­tions remain — such as vio­lence, cor­rup­tion and dis­trust of lead­er­ship — that exist throughout the region.

For his part, Fahmy said that in Egypt, 18 mil­lion people voted in a con­sti­tu­tional ref­er­endum fol­lowing Pres­i­dent Hosni Mubarak’s ouster in Feb­ruary 2011. “It was exhil­a­rating seeing people really taking this seri­ously,” he said. How­ever, much progress remains in Egypt, which must now elect a pres­i­dent and write its con­sti­tu­tion. Fahmy cited the 27 pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates as evi­dence of “a new face of Egypt that we haven’t seen.”

During a Q&A ses­sion, sopho­more Tara Blum­stein, an inter­na­tional affairs and polit­ical sci­ence com­bined major, asked whether inter­na­tional inter­ven­tion — even when nec­es­sary — could hinder the process of nation-​​building. Schwarz answered by citing that how the nation’s mil­i­tary responds to civilian upris­ings has been a key indi­cator of the suc­cess of this process.

Later, an after­noon panel mod­er­ated by Valen­tine Moghadam, pro­fessor and director of inter­na­tional affairs at North­eastern, addressed key ques­tions and focused on the use of force in inter­na­tional rela­tions in the 21st century.