Kristol’s Ode to Arab Spring
William Kristol, director of the neocon Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), is waxing lyrical about the Arab Spring:
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Opines the pro-Israel warmonger:
Today, we still seem stuck in T.S. Eliot’s moral universe. This despite the fact that we are now, in 2011, further in time from “The Waste Land” (1922) than Eliot’s poem was from Pippa Passes. Yet gloomy fatalism remains avant-garde even after many changings of the guard.
Maybe that’s why our response to the Arab Spring has been so grudging. We recall that many springs fail to come to fruition. We’ve been taught that disappointment is inevitable. And so predicting failure seems more worldly, more knowing, than working for success.
Still, the Arab Spring deserves to be greeted with enthusiasm and support. It’s been clear at least since September 11, 2001, that decades of “stability” in the Middle East had produced a waste land of brutal authoritarianism, Islamic extremism, and corrosive anti-Americanism. President Bush set out to change that, but it seemed for a while that the Middle East would be impervious to change. Some sophisticates rationalized that the status quo was better than any likely alternative—after all, the thinking went, at least the Arab “Winter kept us warm, covering / Earth in forgetful snow, feeding / A little life with dried tubers.”
No more. The Arab winter is over. The men and women of the Greater Middle East are no longer satisfied by “a little life.”
Now it’s of course possible that this will turn out to be a false spring. But surely it’s not beyond the capacity of the United States and its allies to help reformers in the Arab world achieve mostly successful outcomes—in Iraq, where we need to be sure that we don’t fritter away the extraordinary gains that have been made in the last four years, and in Egypt and Tunisia. In Libya, halfway competent Obama administration policies should enable the Libyan people to get rid of Muammar Qaddafi. Regime change in Syria looks possible, and would surely be more likely with our aid and encouragement, and without our saying that nation’s hereditary thug ruler, Bashar al-Assad, is a “reformer.” And if at some point the House of Saud totters—well, goodbye to them too, and good riddance.
Here, early in the twenty-first century, the Arabs seem to be rising to the occasion. The question is, will we?
Lest anyone think that Kristol & Co. have gone soft, check out this Russia Today report on FPI’s recent conference: