With radical Islamists and jihadists in control of a strategic area of the Levant; with the Lebanese army engaging Al Qaeda-linked elements; and with Syria building its forces along its border with Israel, it looks like it's going to be a long summer. News even comes today of a rocket attack on Israel from Lebanon.
It made me think of my old "Arab Street" chart. This is a handy little line graph plotting the number of times "Arab street" is used in the context of Middle East conflict. Leftists, academics and even Islamists use the term in hyperbolic fashion whenever they want to argue that any American or Israeli military action will spark a pitchfork revolution in the streets of the Arab world.
Alas! The much-anticipated Revolution never comes, for reasons I mention here and here. However, that doesn't stop folks from talking about it as if it's a real phenomenon. There is a casual relationship between the number of times the phrase is used in the mainstream media and the timing of any U.S. or Israeli action in the region. This has convinced me that the idea is the figment of some sort of collective, liberal imagination.
I came to this conclusion when I was a CT analyst, but at least I'm not the only one. Fouad Ajami, a man much smarter than I, mentioned this when he was discussing the sad, sorry state of Middle East studies programs in the United States with conservative talk show host Dennis Prager.
...Middle Eastern Studies today ironically has more of the spirit of Edward Said than it does the spirit of--and the talent, and the craft--of Bernard Lewis. Bernard Lewis, 91 years of age, one of the great scholars of our time and of this last century is basically an outsider to Middle Eastern Studies. I mean, I am an outsider to Middle Eastern Studies, but forget me I'm not that large a figure. Bernard is unique, but they are invested--they romanticize the Arab street. They're invested in Arab radicalism and they believe in American guilt fundamentally. They believe that our country is responsible for the ills and the decay and the maladies of the Arab world.
With war appearing to be inevitable, here is my chart. I predict that when I return to this chart in a month or two, June and July may see spikes of activity. It's the return of the Arab street, folks. A little bit of worthless, leftist fantasy reading for your summer vacation.