If you needed a crash course in how not to conduct foreign policy, you need only take a cursory glance at Washington’s trials and travails in the Mid-East over the last decade.
On the way to documenting the the carnage unfolding in Libya’s oil crescent last week we said that the country, much like Syria, is a case study in why the West would be better off not intervening in the affairs of sovereign states on the way to bringing about regime change. “Toppling dictators” sounds good in principle, but at the end of the day, it’s nearly impossible to predict what will emerge from the power vacuums the US creates when Washington destabilizes governments.
Post-Baathist Iraq is rife with sectarian discord, a post-Assad Syria would likely be an even bloodier free-for-all than it already is, and post-Gaddafi Libya is a failed state with two governments each claiming legitimacy. These types of environments are exploitable by extremists eager to capitalize on the chaos by seizing resources and, ultimately, power.
It’s in that context that we present the following graphic from The Economist which vividly demonstrates the fact that the Arab Spring was but a false dawn and that five years on, we still have but one democracy among a sea of autocracies and failed states.
By the way, the one “democracy” success story in Tunisia is exceptionally tenuous as evidenced by November's suicide attack in the capital.