Special comment. Readers are watching the crumbling of the US policy architecture in the Middle East during the past four decades which stressed regional stability over all other considerations. That policy did not restrain Israel but did help limit conflicts, It also had many negative consequences for devout Muslims and supporters of the Palestinians.
The 2011 uprisings do not invalidate that policy relative to its effectiveness in earlier times, but show how legacy policies can atrophy, if not updated and refreshed skillfully. Three months ago, leaders who have been ousted or are now under stress were lauded by the US media as allies in the fight against Islamist terrorists. Suddenly in the US press, there is no threat of terrorism any longer, only of suppression of “universal human right”s by regimes that had US backing.
Readers, it is an astonishing coincidence that former allies are now labeled dictators and that the dictators are almost all US allies. The leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah, as dictatorial as any, face no uprisings. Nor does Asad in Syria or Bashir in Sudan. All are military-backed regimes in one sense or another. What are the probabilities of Arab turbulence only in countries friendly to the US, from Senegal to Djibouti?
As for the rising tide of human rights , apparently in the Middle East that is a male phenomenon. Women protest in public at great personal risk. It also seems targeted only at leaders, not at government systems. It is shallow as well as misogynist.
A final point is that the uprisings are different country-by-country. Like diseases that mimic each others’ symtoms, they look and sometimes sound alike but are not in underlying impulses or ultimate goals. That means that one policy will not fit all.
Phi Beta Iota: The above comment is interesting at multiple levels. It certainly is possible that Iran, Turkey, and others have been planning a “coup d’main” for some time, but our own speculative view is that Tunisia and Egypt were the “perfect storm.” The fact that the Muslim Brotherhood was caught as unwitting as CIA is for us an important point. The observation on targeting leaders not systems is valid but insufficient–the public is both secular and inter-faith in nature, they are coming off 30 years or more of the most terrible combination possible: personalistic corrupt dictators; US multi-billion dollar military assistance to those dictators and a blind eye to human rights combined with post 9/11 joint rendition and torture; and Israel running wild. Finally, while true that one policy will not fit all, it must be observed that the US has no strategy, no intelligence, no policy, and no regional plan. Ideological blinders and financial inducements have corrupted US leaders, both political and professional. Until the leaders find their integrity–something highly unlikely to happen until a revolution occurs in the US–the US will continue to waste blood, treasure, and spirit abroad instead of putting its own house in order.