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Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Arab Spring Eight Months Later

Reports coming from the pro-Gaddafi stronghold of Sirt in Libya is that Moammar Gaddafi was killed earlier this morning. Most major news outlets have confirmed this, and I have seen photographs that purport to be from Sirt that show an obviously dead Gaddafi.

But, like, everything else in the Middle East, only time well tell.

The experts are tripping over each other trying to get their opinions about how horrible, or how wonderful, all of this is going to turn out, in the near future, or many years from now. I'm not sure which. Actually, no one knows the first thing about how things in the Middle East are going to turn out -- not even the people in the Middle East. But there are two basic Western schools of thought you can count on:
  1. If the person opining is a Conservative, the entire region from Morocco to Afghanistan is going to become one very nasty and hard-to-be-neighborly-with Islamist state that will eventually kill us all
  2. If the person opining is a Liberal, happy days are here again, except death is bad, but in the end, everything is going to be like an animated Disney film, replete with a sexy but oppressed princess, a scurrilous but pure street urchin, a monkey and Robin Williams acting manic like usual.
The reality is that likely neither of the above will come true, but if I had to bet on one, it wouldn't be Item #2.

So here's where the Arab Spring stands, eight months later:
  • Tunisia: The health officer that slapped the fruit vendor who immolated himself and set the whole thing in motion has come out with her side of the story (Reality-based Libertarianism October 19, 2011). It clarified absolutely nothing, but it does put focus on the incredible chasm between the government and the people of Tunisia
  • Libya: Now the fun begins. Will the Transitional National Council keep its ties to the West or will Fundamentalist factions within Libya further the civil war to gain control of the country? Is the TNC truly pro-western, in spite of the many jihadists within its ranks? Will Gaddafi's two fatwahs against America be withdrawn? Will the Libyan people continue to suffer grievously while those in power figure out what to do next?
  • Egypt: It is glaringly obvious the the Egyptian Revolution was an abject failure. Women, foreigners and anti-military protesters are all still being oppressed, and in the case of Coptic Christians -- killed. All the Egyptian people did was lop off the head (Mubarak) of the beast (the Army) which simply allowed the beast to increase its martial power over the people.
  • Yemen: The US government is snacking in bed with President Saleh and his brutal regime. Maybe that's a good thing for us, maybe it's not. But it's certainly not a good thing for the people of Yemen. Expect this to end badly for everyone but Saleh in the short term.
  • Bahrain: We have a Navy base (NSA Bahrain) in Manama, and Bahrain is considered the linchpin of our interests in the Middle East. Dictator King Khalifah is every bit as brutal -- if not more so -- than any other dictator in the region. The difference is, he just likes to terrorize his  own people, within his own borders. (See Reality-based Libertarianism April 20, 2011). This will be a protracted fight until Saudi Arabia either annexes Bahrain or the House of Saud falls.
  • Saudi Arabia: Personally, my estimation is most of the trouble in the region comes from one of two places, this is the first. Stop the political non-sense here at home, drill for oil and natural gas and put the Saudis as close to out-of-business as possible. Then watch the Middle East change direction drastically.
  • Syria: Assad is a homicidal and genocidal maniac and the world will be shocked when it eventually learns how many Syrians have been killed during the unrest there. Again, Assad is only killing his own people so it's easy for the West to stick their hands in their pockets and shrug as they walk away. We can't be the world's policeman, but we shouldn't forget what is taking place in Syria.
  • Iraq: In spite of the fact that two of the most hated presidents in the last ten years have their fingerprints all over this place, Iraq just might be our best hope for lasting peace in the region. That being said, it's time to force the Iraqis into coalescing their government so we can bring our kids home.
  • Iran: Yeah, well, this is just not going to go well. Iran is one of two state sponsors of idiocy in the region (see Saudi Arabia). The West needs to understand, quickly, that war is not only inevitable here, it's the only thing the Iranian regime will understand. In 2008, President Obama seriously blew the best opportunity any president since Reagan has had to help topple Ahmadinejad's regime from within. That will most certainly come back to haunt us all.  
  • Afghanistan: No Western power is ever going to solve the problem of Afghanistan. Pull out, protect our own blood and treasure, and blockade the place with a Kevlar curtain. Pretty much you can throw Pakistan in there too.
It's not pretty, but we've committed ourselves to the region over years of horrendous foreign policy. We have no choice but to engage and get smart. We need an Administration that is well-equipped and well-versed on the region to protect ourselves and possibly help spread freedom to the people of the region. Forget money and oil, we need to rediscover who we were before we helped totally screw up the place.

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