While I’m in a graphic-y sort of mood, I would be remiss if I didn’t link to Kerwin Datu’s network analysis of the Syrian situation:
Max Fisher of The Washington Post published a chart showing the tangled web of love and hate that ensnares the various “meddlers” and “meddlees” in the Middle East. The chart is the work of an Egyptian blogger, The Big Pharaoh, and was inspired by a letter to the Financial Times. The chart looks completely hopeless, or in Fisher’s words, “sort of terrifying”.
And yes it does, at least until you start teasing it apart step by step. Part of my own research involves analysing the global economy as a network of cities using the tools of social network analysis. While I don’t pretend to have any kind of expertise on the Middle East, I decided to convert The Big Pharaoh’s chart into a network graph (incorporating the quibbles Fisher noted in his update) to see what’s really happening inside it. I also don’t pretend to evaluate the truth of the original chart; I offer this simply as an interesting methodological exercise that may be replicated by anyone looking for new ways to analyse complex diplomatic problems.
I’m not sure that enhances my understanding but at least it’s a different way of looking at a hopelessly complicated situation.
Hat tip: Charles Cameron at Zenpundit