Do you remember that moment nearly two years ago when popular revolts were going off like a string of Independence Day firecrackers throughout the Arab world? Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen. Syria.
Nearly 40,000 dead civilians later, Syria looks like the place the Arab Spring came to die. Cities shelled into rubble by a regime whose eye doctor-turned-dictator has vowed never to surrender power. Refugees flooding by the hundred thousand across borders of worried neighbors. Rumors of chemical weapons spreading as governments once friendly to Bashar Assad acknowledge a possible future in which he doesn't feature. Nothing is getting better quickly there, or anywhere else in the Middle East for that matter.
Iran's regime clings to its nuclear program even as economic sanctions and international isolation do their work. But can they achieve their goals before Israel strikes pre-emptively?
And Egypt, that freely elected its first president, Mohamed Morsi in June, watched in dismay last month as he granted himself sweeping emergency powers. Thousands of protesters have flooded back into the streets, decrying what they call Morsi's bid to be a new "pharaoh." He insisted he had to suspend democracy to guarantee passage of the constitution, ratified in controversial voting this month. Still, Morsi brokered a cease fire between his Islamist allies in Hamas and Israel. He rebuked Syria to the consternation of Iran. So what will we think of Egypt a year from now — an evolving success or a squandered opportunity? What, for that matter, will we say about the Middle East?