In response to the popular uprisings across the Arab world, the U.S. has not enacted entirely consistent policies. While it eased Hosni Mubarak out of power in Egypt, for example, it did not respond with the same conviction in the cases of Yemen or Bahrain. But a superpower must act capriciously at times to protect its interests, says Aaron Miller, longtime adviser to the Department of State. Unfortunately for the U.S., argues Miller, it was neither loved nor feared enough in the Middle East and it was therefore prevented from responding strongly to the uprisings.
What’s the Big Idea?
While the string of revolutions is popularly referred to as the Arab Spring, from the point of view of the U.S., it may be more of an Arab Winter. “The growing influence of Arab public opinion on the actions of Arab governments and the absence of strong leaders will make it much tougher for the United States to pursue its traditional policies,” says Miller. “For America, the Arab Spring may well prove to be more an Arab Winter.” The uprisings reiterate that the U.S. doesn’t run the world and must tread lightly in a region where its policies are increasingly at odds with public opinion.