Curtis: If 9/11 defined the last decade, will the Arab Spring define the next?
Yes, if we take a myopic “western” view. We in the West, especially since the 1890s, have defined each decade (“the gay ’90s for example); while 9/11 had world-wide significance as signalling that the world’s only superpower was itself vulnerable and no longer (if ever) exceptional, the Arab Spring could be regional or perhaps more….we don’t know yet.
If the Arab Spring evolves into an Islamic Renaissance or Enlightenment, including the Turkish-speaking peoples as well those speaking Urdu, Bengali, or Baha Indonesian, that would define the decade. Or China by 2020 attaining-near military parity with the United States, backed by rising economic/political power could define our decade. Or the collapse of the European experiment if that were to happen…or the rise of Orthodoxy in Russia and the near-abroad, which would restore Christianity to where it was (East and West) before 1453 (the capture by the Turks of Constantinople).
All this to say that the Arab Spring, while important regionally, is not complete and could resemble more the socio-political-theological uprisings in the West from the thirteenth century onward, or the convulsions in the Islamic world since the late seventh century, than anything more.