“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."
As investigators scramble to piece together clues to what happened to Egypt Air Flight 804, analysts said that some attention would probably be focused on where the plane flew in the 24 hours before the crash, with stops in countries where aviation security standards have previously raised concerns.
The aircraft, a 12-year-old Airbus A320, flew from Cairo to Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, on Tuesday night and then returned early Wednesday morning. Then it flew a round trip to Tunis and back before heading for Paris.
An advisory published by the United States State Department in May 2015 warned that security at Asmara International Airport “can be unpredictable,” and noted a “lack of efficiency and consistency” in the screening of travelers there.
In the wake of the October bombing of a Russian airliner over the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, European officials expressed concerns about gaps in airport security at airports in North Africa, including Tunisia, as well as at some airports in Egypt.
If initial reports that the Egypt Air jetliner swerved before it crashed are confirmed, then “something happened that forced the pilots to lose control over the plane,” Hossam Kamal, a former Egyptian minister of civil aviation, told The Associated Press.
Mr. Kamal spoke to the news agency on Thursday after the authorities said that the jetliner appeared, based on radar traces, to have made an unexplained series of extremely abrupt turns before crashing into the Mediterranean Sea.
Passenger planes are not designed to make such maneuvers, Mr. Kamal said. “These are not warplanes,” he said.
He said recovery of the plane’s flight recorders, known as black boxes, would help to shed light on “what happened that forced the pilot to lose control.”