Has it really been only two years since the Arab Spring? It seems like only yesterday that the White House was patting itself on the back over the successful use of “soft power” to transform the Arab world: something that the evil Bush and his neo-con banditti would never have contemplated.
Now the project lies in ruins. Egypt is in the first stages of a civil war as the Egyptian military attempts to eradicate the country of the Muslim Brotherhood thugs Barack Obama had championed as latter day Jeffersonian democrats. Libya is reduced to an amalgam of bandit chieftains and al Qaeda factions vying for supremacy. The lasts domino, Bashar al-Assad, has stubbornly refused to fall and actually shows signs of coming out of the current crisis at least as strong as he was in 2011.
Now the other shoe is dropping. The first domino, Tunisia, is on the verge of descending into violence, too.
When a popular uprising swept the sclerotic government of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali out of office it was quickly replaced by the only organized opposition: the Islamists of the Ennahda Party.
See, one of the interesting thing about dictatorships is that they operate a lot like gun laws operate. When political opposition is suppressed, law abiding citizens don’t engage in politics. The people who do organize politically are people who are somewhat fanatic. In a previous time, you could count on the commies to be the core of any resistance to non-communist totalitarian governments (see the history of any Latin American junta, for instance). In the Arab world, the political resistance is nearly universal some variety of Islamist group.
The Ennahda has the same roots as Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the same propensity for violence and oppression.
Naturally, the first thing the Ennahda embarked upon was converting a fairly secular Tunisian constitution into an Islamist one. This has encountered resistance. Along the way, the leader of the opposition was blown up. Unsurprisingly, everyone looked at Ennahda. Then in July another opposition leader was assassinated. Again, the usual suspects.
The combination of creeping Islamism, repression, and political assassinations has galvanized most sectors of Tunisian society against the government.
This whole debacle along the Mediterranean rim points to the fecklessness of the Obama administration and its vain and self-serving attempt to prove that it could work wonders of democracy without any real effort. The final result, however, is what could have been easily predicted: chaos. And not mere chaos but purposeless chaos accompanied by a decline in American prestige and influence.