David Rothkopf has some upbeat year-end reflections on the Arab Spring:
[W]e're a long way from Jeffersonian ideals taking root in the local souks, but it goes without saying that there has never been a year like 2011 in the Arab world. Fed by the changes ushered in by pioneers like those at Al Jazeera and the onset of social networking in the region, fueled by the corruption and cluelessness of aging, repressive regimes, a new social contract is being written in the Mideast. Ironically — or perhaps inevitably — it's not being fueled by America's efforts to impose democracy on Iraq (a country headed in the wrong direction right now, it seems). Rather this homegrown version of representative government may produce completely new phenomena — like Islamist democracy. We in the West may find it hard to deal with … and local elites may find it even tougher to swallow … but it's not our call. If we believe in principles of self-determination, we need to support them even when it's not easy to do. And if we do … well, 2011 may ultimately live up to the hope it triggered.