In the Middle East, these are interesting times — which means these also are interesting times in the halls of the State Department.
With popular protests having brought down the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, the wave of demonstrations for democracy is sweeping on to other countries in the region. We are seeing unrest in Bahrain, violent encounters between government forces and anti-government activists in Libya, and clashes between police and protesters in Yemen. Governments in places like Jordan are trying to implement reforms that they hope will quell popular unrest. The wave has even reached Iran, where there have been confrontations between security forces and supporters of opposition to the government.
It is not clear yet how big, or how powerful, this wave of protest against undemocratic regimes will be. Waves are unpredictable. Sometimes waves that look enormous peter out, and waves also can be indiscriminate in their destructive force. In a year, we could see a Middle East that looks pretty much the same as it does right now, or we could see an area filled with many new governments. And if that is the result, who knows whether the governments will support peace with Israel and be favorably inclined to America, or whether we will see more governments predicated on intolerant religious fundamentalism, or whether we will see something else entirely? In America, and in Israel, we watch with anticipation and dread as the wave rolls on.