Several Thoughts on the Arab Revolution
1) It's not yet a revolution. It might become one, but one of the reasons I haven't blogged much about this (apart from the snow-related loss of power) is that I have no idea which way this is going to go. I don't believe the Mubarak regime is going to give up power as easily as the Tunisians, for what it's worth. Although that can change very quickly.
2) So much for stability. A few years ago, I profiled Brent Scowcroft, the king of foreign policy realism, and he recounted for me a conversation he had with his erstwhile protege, Condi Rice:
"She says we're going to democratize Iraq, and I said, 'Condi, you're not going to democratize Iraq,' and she said, 'You know, you're just stuck in the old days,' and she comes back to this thing that we've tolerated an autocratic Middle East for fifty years and so on and so forth," he said. Then a barely perceptible note of satisfaction entered his voice, and he said, "But we've had fifty years of peace."
Fifty years of peace has meant propping up dictators for fifty years.
3) Is that such a bad thing? Friends of mine like Reuel Gerecht believe that Arabs, given their druthers, might choose Islamist governments, and that would be okay, because it's part of a long-term process of gradual modernization. I'm not so sure. I support democratization, but the democratization we saw in Gaza (courtesy of, among others, Condi Rice) doesn't seem particularly worth it.
4) This doesn't really have much to do with the liberation of Iraq. Yes, it was a liberation, and no, it hasn't inspired very much in the Arab world. Sorry.
5) Once again, these uprisings are offering proof that Israel isn't the central Arab preoccupation. WikiLeaks showed us that Iran is the obsession of Arab leaders, and these mass demonstrations are showing us that the faults of Arab leaders are the actual obsession of Arab people. Don't think, however, that the next Egyptian government -- if that's where we're heading -- is going to be friendly to Israel. And this is true even if it is not a Muslim Brotherhood government.
UPDATE: More, less ambivalent thoughts, here.