When you lance a boil, it’s a difficult, painful business and what comes out of it is really ugly.
The same is true of Arab Spring which, in large part, began with what we did in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama has handled it extremely poorly and the results so far have been ugly, but to a certain extent, that’s to be expected.
Nations like Egypt, Syria, Libya, and Tunisa are poor, backwards, repressed societies that have little experience with freedom and the only force that has been strong enough to stand up to the oppression of the government up until this point has been radical Islam.
So, it’s not surprising that radical Islamists are benefitting the most from a move towards democracy since they’re already organized and they’ve built up their reputations by battling the hated regimes. However, radical Islamists have proven to be almost universally poor at governing because they can’t effectively cope with the modern world.
That begs the question: what comes next? When the people realize the weird beards can’t govern, do they give them the boot? Do the Islamists get elected once, suspend democracy and prevent any other forces from rising up?
We don’t know.
The Arab world is lurching towards freedom on unsteady feet and we really can’t know how it will end up. It’s entirely possible it could even end up WORSE for the region and the world than it is today with repressive, largely secular dictatorships being replaced with radical, repressive theocracies.
So, why is this a good thing despite the extremely uncertain outcome?
Because we already have a region full of failed, terrorist-supporting states headed towards a nuclear arms race — and pre-Arab Spring it was likely to get worse, not better, over the long haul as oil becomes a less important resource.
In a sense, this whole thing is like a medical procedure on a sick patient who’s on track to perish. A step has been taken that may save his life, but things will get worse before they get better and of course, sometimes the sick don’t recover. They stay sick, they get worse, they die. How it plays out with the Arab Spring has yet to be determined.