Some words of wisdom from a friend deep in U.S. officialdom. I had complained about the superficiality of some American approaches to the Arab revolts in the Mideast (continuing a theme of Dining with al-Qaeda), thus:
[There is] unjustified hoopla about the dynamics of the Arab spring … and then, when it turns out that it’s all much more complicated than it looked, then it’s uh-oh, Arab winter again, and consign the region back to the dump with weary self-righteous sighs.
To which my friend replied from Washington, DC:
“On the simplicity of the Mideast coverage, you are certainly right descriptively. In my view, though these simplistic narratives aren’t a result of not understanding the dynamics that you mention. People are, for example, very aware that the all of the emerging “Arab Spring” governments will, at best, be problematic partners for the US. It is rather an effort to create reality by insisting that it is so—and people will certainly continue to do so until it becomes so dramatically at variance with reality that they exercise a 180 degree and express with equal confidence the exact opposite (i.e. Arab Winter). There is a general feeling in DC that public expressions of nuance, however accurate, are not useful, demonstrate uncertainty and hesitation, and are doomed to misinterpretation. I’m not sure if this should make you feel better or worse. It means there is more understanding than you imagine, but also that education will not cure the problem.”