Matthew Kaminski: The Arab Spring Is Still Alive

Roundup: Media's Take

Mr. Kaminski is a member of the Journal's editorial board.

This year of Mideast upheaval is barely half gone and the final acts in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Syria are yet to be written. But panjandrums of America's foreign policy establishment are pronouncing the grander, idealistic aspirations aroused by these revolutions all but dead.

An AP headline the other day summed up the conventional wisdom: "Arab Spring Stalled." "The stalling" in the Middle East, wrote Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass in the Financial Times the week before, leaves the region "less tolerant, less prosperous and less stable than what existed." Mr. Haass, a leading voice in the realist camp, sounded a nostalgic note for the days the U.S. maintained the Arab status quo together with the Saudi royals. "It will not be springtime any time soon in the Middle East," he concluded.

By this line of thinking, change in the Mideast carries almost exclusively bad consequences (political chaos, empowered Islamists, regional instability) that the U.S. can at best contain—rather than opportunities that Washington might seize to help build better, freer societies and undermine American enemies. Anyone who remembers the debates of the early post-Cold War era may feel the prick of déjà vu...

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