As another example of global interconnectedness, the shift in global media coverage from MENA to Japan might act to slow the pace of change in the Middle East. Why? Some hypotheses:
A) global media attention creates a positive feedback loop for pressure on governments and other groups, starting by amplifying and solidifying a set of dominant messages
B) this encourages involvement by the international community, both populations and governments
C) which legitimises, reassures and engages greater numbers of local actors who feel emboldened by international support
If these hypotheses are both true and significantly powerful, shifting major headlines away from nascent change efforts could imply lower pressure, more degrees of freedom for regimes and other contextual factors that benefit incumbent regimes. Just a thought. So in addition to having a material impact on German politics (and possibly therefore European policy-making, as my colleague Max von Bismarck suggested), the Japanese disaster might also be materially changing the course of history in MENA.