- By Gary SickGary Sick, an adjunct professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, served on the National Security Council staff under Presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan and is the author of two books on U.S.-Iranian relations. This article was originally posted on his blog and is republished here with his permission.
The string of popular uprisings that are rocking the Arab world, most recently in Egypt, have created a fundamental dilemma for U.S. policy in the Middle East. Policymakers are being forced to place a bet on an outcome that is inherently unpredictable and pregnant with some unsavory consequences.
There is no shortage of talk about the conditions in these Arab countries that has given rise to the revolts. They have very young populations, poor economic performance, meager future prospects, a widening divide between the wealthy and the poor, and live with a culture of authoritarian arrogance from governments that have come to regard their position as a matter of entitlement. The line between monarchies and "republics" has become so blurred as to be meaningless. Family dynasties rule … and rule and rule, seemingly forever.