A few months ago, Tom Friedman was on Charlie Rose talking about the Egyptian revolution and said he had been in Cairo and the buildings looked "60 years" behind modern buildings. The Egyptian economy, he was saying, was frozen by dictatorship.
I grabbed an envelope to scribble the comment down, then did nothing with it. But the other day Friedman was on All Things Considered, talking about his latest book, when he said that the Arab revolutions would be sorting themselves out for the next "100 years."
This is all just neoliberal code for Arab backwardness. Yes, Egyptian society has been stymied by a dictator. Yes, it is a traditional society that is undergoing huge changes. Yes, the revolution will be sorting itself out for a long time -- 25 years, I believe Issandr El-Amrani suggested, at the 92d Street Y a few months back. Our revolution took a long time to sort out. But some of the good changes are going to happen right now...
The idea that it will take 100 years is just Friedman's way of putting the Arab world on ice as backward and no-account and bedeviled by Islamism.
And yes I wonder how much of this attitude is driven by love of Israel-- so evolved it doesn't need to revolve.