The pleasant, heady days of Arab Spring are behind us. They were the good old days when the West had inhaled the sweet fresh breezes of change and they had fantasized about democracy and the blossoming of a new Middle East. It was a time of innocent hope and pretty flowers and cute, cuddly bunny rabbits. It was spring. But somehow, almost without their noticing it, the seasons have changed. Somehow we’ve slid into summer. A long hot Arabian summer where the unforgiving sun burns the sky above you and the heat of the ground rises in waves around you. Solidarity in Egypt morphs into fiery Moslem attacks on Coptic Christians. NATO No Fly zones in Libya turn into targeted assassinations, bombing raids, and ensnarement in a civil war. In Syria the heat incinerates its victims with the entire world watching. Yes, we are in the depths of Arab Summer, and the West is trying to ignore what is now gathering strength on the horizon. It is a bitter, fierce, and inevitable season that approaches and one for which America and the West seem totally unprepared; it is Iranian Winter. Before the Western pundits gave us the term Arab Spring the thing that they nattered on about was the Arab Street. It was a fascinating notion. It went like this. The Arab world was a collection of dictatorships and monarchies. Each state worked on the principle of one man – one vote, i.e. the man who was in charge was the man with the one vote. This meant that nobody, especially not Western politicians or journalists, knew what the people living in these totalitarian countries wanted, thought, or believed. There was no way to gauge public opinion because the public was afraid to give its opinion. So the supposed experts on the Middle East invented the next best thing. They called it the Arab Street. And for some time we’ve listened to them explain to us what the so-called Arab Street was thinking and what the Arab Street wanted until the explosion of Arab unrest caught them by surprise. So they coined the term Arab Spring to explain what had happened.
When I was a kid in Brooklyn there was a popular children’s story that I loved. It was called the Grasshopper and the Ant. It’s one of Aesop’s Fables but I had a Little Golden Book version. I seem to remember there having been a Disney animated movie of the tale. The plot of the little morality play involves a grasshopper who fiddles around all summer and an ant who prepares for the coming winter. The moral that is drawn is based on the assumption that the ant is industrious and that the grasshopper is lazy and just looking for fun. But maybe Aesop and the publishers of the Little Golden Books and Walt Disney had it all wrong. Maybe it wasn’t that the grasshopper was lazy and just looking for fun. Maybe he was just too dumb to know that it wouldn’t be summer for ever. Maybe he just didn’t know that winter was coming, like the folks running America’s foreign policy. The impact of a nuclear-armed and missile-equipped Islamist Iranian state on the course of history will be profound …and more so because America let it happen.