Alas, this sliver of Westernization was no match for the highly organized, widely supported, politically serious Islamists who effortlessly swept them aside in national elections.
This was not a Facebook revolution but the beginning of an Islamist one. Amid the ruins of secular nationalist pan-Arabism, the Muslim Brotherhood rose to solve the conundrum of Arab stagnation and marginality. "Islam is the answer," it preached and carried the day.
But what kind of political Islam? On that depends the future. The moderate Turkish version or the radical Iranian one?
To be sure, Recep Erdogan's Turkey is no paragon. The increasingly authoritarian Erdogan has broken the military, neutered the judiciary and persecuted the press. There are more journalists in prison in Turkey than in China. Nonetheless, for now, Turkey remains relatively pro-Western (though unreliably so) and relatively democratic (compared to its Islamic neighborhood).
For now, the new Islamist ascendancy in Arab lands has taken on the more benign Turkish aspect. Inherently so in Morocco and Tunisia; by external constraint in Egypt, where the military sees itself as guardian of the secular state, precisely as did Turkey's military in the 80 years from Ataturk to Erdogan.
Genuinely democratic rule may yet come to Arab lands. Radical Islam is the answer to nothing, as demonstrated by the repression, social backwardness and civil strife of Taliban Afghanistan, Islamist Sudan and clerical Iran.
As for moderate Islamism, if it eventually radicalizes, it too will fail and bring on yet another future Arab Spring where democracy might actually be the answer (as it likely would have been in Iran had the mullahs not savagely crushed the Green Revolution). Or it might adapt to modernity, accept the alternation of power with secularists and thus achieve by evolution an authentic Arab-Islamic democratic norm.
Perhaps. The only thing we can be sure of today, however, is that Arab nationalism is dead and Islamism is its successor. This is what the Arab Spring has wrought. The beginning of wisdom is facing that difficult reality.
Krauthammer's email address is lett...@charleskrauthammer.