Policemen stand at a checkpoint near a Christmas tree in Tripoli, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. (The Daily Star/Fathi Masri)
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Treverton last September became chairman of the U.S. National Intelligence Council, a post that includes coordinating intelligence forecasts from America's 16 spy agencies.To bolster their argument that volatility signals stability, and vice versa, the two look at how Syria and Lebanon were perceived at the beginning of the Arab Spring in 2011 . Why did seemingly stable Syria begin to fall apart while "always-in-turmoil Lebanon" proved more robust than pundits predicted?A free-market economy made Lebanon less vulnerable to disruption than Syria with its rigid Soviet-style system.In that thinking, the best indicator of a country's future stability is not past stability but volatility in the recent past.In western Europe, Taleb and Treverton view one country as particularly robust, for reasons that echo their view of Lebanon.It is decentralized and has bounced back from perennial political crises that gave the country 14 prime ministers in the past 25 years.
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