Look Who's Not Laughing Now

Earlier this year, William Kristol over at the Weekly Standard couldn’t wait to mock conservatives who were watching the developments in Egypt’s Tahrir Square with trepidation, knowing how this revolution would ultimately end: In a tyrannical Islamic state not unlike Iran.  Kristol drew stunningly wrong-headed conclusions from the erupting “Arab Spring,” and he and his pal Rich Lowry over at the Nation Review enjoyed a good laugh at the expense of concerned conservatives who wondered about the possibilities of a growing Islamic hegemony in the region.  The laughter has ceased, and if Kristol was honest, he’d write an essay explaining all the ways in which he had been wrong, and apologize to all of those who he had earlier mocked.  Of course, don’t expect that from Kristol, because he’s a true DC insider, and he won’t have bothered to note that in Egypt, the Islamists are now coming to power, precisely as more wary and rational conservatives predicted.

What should have been apparent to Mr. Kristol is that there can be no ‘Arab Spring’ under the control of Islam, and it was clear to most rational observers from the outset that an Islamic Republic of some sort would be the result.  Kristol thought otherwise, but like all good establishment writers, he hedged his bets a little when it became apparent things were not going so wonderfully as he had supposed, but that didn’t stop him from making the most absurd statement:

No more. The Arab winter is over. The men and women of the Greater Middle East are no longer satisfied by “a little life.”

This is the sort of delusional hyperbole that characterized much of Kristol’s writing on the subject at the time, and it’s one more instance in which what he wishes to be true leads him to write as though it had been true.   Now that Islamist groups are winning the elections, and will clearly come to dominate the government of Egypt, and as protests again turn violent, one might reasonably ask what Mr. Kristol now says about all of this, having earlier declared the “Arab Spring” in full bloom.  The answer:  He hasn’t offered anything more on a subject that has turned into a rough spot given his early judgments on the matter.

Meanwhile, on the ground in Egypt, the facts are making a strong case in the form of violence that Mr. Kristol’s hopeful wishes for the future have been superseded by the evidence of the “false spring” with which he covered his bases.  This situation remains fluid, but the outcome seems less in doubt as the Islamist factions are clearly sweeping aside any pro-Democracy factions in the elections.  What this will likely mean is that before all is said and done, we’re going to be faced with an increasingly radicalized Arab world, with terrible consequences for Israel, and indeed, the entire region.  This is one of the reasons Kristol’s wishful thinking was irresponsible and dangerous: Too many took to heart a false sense of security about the state of things in the region, and too many came to believe there was nothing about which Americans should worry.  As is now clear, that’s an unmistakable falsehood, and as it stands, we’re likely to see a growing movement in Egypt that will be more openly hostile to Israel, and more apt to discard its treaty commitments.  What Bill Kristol’s shameful mocking of conservative doubters of the “Arab Spring” had accomplished was to cause Americans to avert their eyes from the danger, but we won’t be able to remain willfully blind to it much longer.  The question thus becomes:  When will Kristol finally open his?

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