Robert Fisk on the Arab Spring

Is America becoming irrelevant?

Amr Dalsh / Reuters

In an op-ed published earlier this week, Robert Fisk, the venerable journalist, has offered a damning assessment of the United States' waning influence in the Middle East. From the perspective of those striving, and dying, for democracy and justice in the Arab world, Fisk explains, the Obama administration has squandered whatever support the United States once had: "Obama's failure to support the Arab revolutions until they were all but over lost the US most of its surviving credit in the region." The contradiction between the rhetoric of democracy, and the reality of American policies has finally grown to great, the illusion is shattered.

Where Fisk goes further, however, and what makes his article a must-read is in how he anticipates the irrelevance of the United States will play out on a geopolitical level. He argues that the motor of change is now within the hands of the people on the street, not the out-of-touch career politicians in the White House, and that this shift will result in an intensification of popular unrest.

"The tectonic plates shudder," Fisk writes. "If there's an 'intifada' in Syria, why not a Third Intifada in 'Palestine'? Not a struggle of suicide bombers but of mass, million-strong protests. If the Israelis have to shoot down a mere few hundred demonstrators who tried – and in some cases succeeded – in crossing the Israeli border almost two weeks ago, what will they do if confronted by thousands or a million. Obama says no Palestinian state must be declared at the UN. But why not? Who cares in the Middle East what Obama says? Not even, it seems, the Israelis. The Arab spring will soon become a hot summer and there will be an Arab autumn, too. By then, the Middle East may have changed forever. What America says will matter nothing."

Read the full article at the Independent and come back here to discuss.