Belmont Club - Making Sense of Things - Iran, Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan

But the administration’s attempts to bestride events seem hollow. What appears to be happening is that everything in the Middle east is the same as it always was, only more so, and in a way that has shredded the diplomatic green baize routine. None of the hatreds, fault lines, corruption, ethnic divisions, schisms and vendettas of the region have been resolved; only now they are in the open and clamoring in the street, fueled by Google, Facebook and Twitter. The policy of kicking the can down the road has suddenly stopped working. All the problems which diplomats thought they had decades to solve are now simultaneously coming to the table, urgent, immediate and uncompromising.

In decades past the West could impose a kind of queue on the incoming threads and marshal resources for their orderly resolution. The current crisis threatens to blow past the elaborately constructed edifices of the EU, UN, IMF and group of industrialized countries the way German Panzers blasted past the Maginot Line. What may be failing, in addition to the authoritarian regimes of the Middle East and Southwest Asia, is the entire International System.

After the shock and euphoria of change fade next few months, the resolution of the problems which have been so abundantly thrown up will come down to the primitive things: supplies of energy, food, logistics, information and military force. It would be ironic indeed if the 21st century ushered in, not the suave, international order that Eurocrats predicted, but a Hobbesian world in which the new rules have yet to be determined.