In his recent Bloomberg column, Jeffrey Goldberg wonders if the so-called “Arab Spring” was “a victory for extremism.” Working his way through to his conclusion that for the next 10-30 years we should expect “experiments in theocratic rule” or “other forms of authoritarianism”, Goldberg notes the failure of analysts and the commentariat to anticipate the uprisings and their consequences:
It is also a shame — a lesser shame, a shame of poor analysis — that the Arab Uprising went entirely unpredicted in Washington and elsewhere. To compound the shame, few people, even in the midst of the uprisings, forecast the rise of Islamist parties to power not only in Egypt but also in Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, and coming soon, in Syria, when the Assad regime finally falls.
As Goldberg probably knows, there is one place in the world where actually quite a few people – from greengrocers to analysts to the prime minister – had no illusions about where the region was heading. Instead of providing a long list of examples, I’ll just link to Karl Vick’s aptly entitled “Israel on the Islamist Surge in Egypt: Told You So.”
And it’s easy to make another prediction: none of the analysts and pundits who failed to see what was coming will be in any way ashamed – and no matter how often Israeli assessments turn out to be spot-on, there will always be a chorus of commentators who will dismiss them as “hard-line,” “right-wing” and “intransigent.”