Another curious report surfaces to add to the “What Were They Thinking?” file:
Part of [America’s] international appeal derives from the perception that we’re usually on the side of freedom. Yet reform, not revolution, should be our watchword; preserving our position should be our highest goal.
Our foreign-policy establishment doesn’t always share this view. That was on display at times in America’s response to the biggest recent shift in the international order—the Arab Spring. Though Washington was generally slow-moving and cautious throughout the Spring, at a few key moments, it took steps that put fuel on the fire.
And not merely steps that accidentally fueled the unrest, but steps intended to stoke the unrest. RAND Corporation political scientist Christopher S. Chivvis elaborates:
[The argument was] enmeshed in a wider calculus about the Arab Spring: that decisive support for the revolution would vividly demonstrate that the United States supported the uprisings across the region and could thereby deter other regional leaders from crushing legitimate civilian protests by force….Not acting in Libya, in other words, would put the United States on the wrong side of history, encourage other Arab leaders to choose violent repression over peaceful reform, and could reverse a democratic surge expected to be in the U.S. interest in the long haul.
In other words, George W. Bush’s ill advised program to Make the World America didn’t die with his administration. The torch was picked up and carried forward, if only more quietly, by the Obama Administration. That the results were catastrophic is beyond doubt. Libya was turned into a safe haven and arms depot for al Qaeda and their affiliates. It also became a catalyst for Syrian unrest and a conduit through which arms and radicals poured into that conflict.
I am tempted to say the end results are stark for America, but we have yet to see the end. In the interim, Long-time adversaries like al Qaeda, Syria, Iran and their proxies are running amok in the region. Meanwhile, stable long-time friends in the region like Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are left second guessing American intentions and are increasingly choosing their own paths. The end result, I fear, is America will be left without friends or influence in the region, which means Moscow and Beijing will be pulling the strings and the Middle East risks a southern extension of Central Asia, where hyper-authoritarian Russian and Chinese client states are the norm.