My disclaimer is coming upfront on this. I haven’t spent a lot of time reading about foreign policy (except perhaps 19th and some 20th century), and even if I did it would have been only in the capacity of consumer of information. I own some books on Middle Eastern policy in the latter part of the 20th century, read them once or twice to get a better understanding of the world around me and then moved on. I also sat through an AEI discussion of the recent “crisis” where I couldn’t detect much of a consensus forming. Posting about it might mean that I like the taste of shoe leather, and it might very well turn out that way; but in general I prefer things that are a little more satisfying.
Some revolutions succeed, but most fail. When they do succeed, there is a considerable amount of political instability involved after the initial conflict is over as various influences vie to fill the power vacuum. Even in the case of the United States, the end of the Revolutionary War wasn’t the end. It was just the end of the beginning with very delicate political situations afterward that could have aborted our republic in the embryonic stage. Given the history of mishaps and considerable amount of political embarrassments while under the Articles of Confederation that provided the impetus for the creation of our Constitution, I think it is too early to assume that we are looking at mini French Revolutions in all of these places that had their own version of the Arab Spring and where our embassies are under siege by mobs.
Some of my friends suggest that propping up dictators so these people can be controlled is the better solution, but I tend to think of dictatorial control and brainwashing as a source of the problem rather than the cure. Everyone has inalienable rights that include a right to self-government; and these people who desire and deserve democracy have a lot of work to do to get a mature enough society to be good citizens among nations. When they won their right to vote in free and fair elections, they became masters of their own destiny and as such, their economic and diplomatic success is entirely up to them. There are consequences to not being able to meet that expectation, and it isn’t just diplomatic alienation of nations that may otherwise be willing to help. It affects economic issues and what daily life is like – for them. It’s up to them to dispel the fears of potential investors and trading partners and not up to us to tolerate or excuse their violence and hate. In any case we must respect their choices as much as they have to live with them. If they don’t want us around, we need to oblige them.
As for what will happen to these people in the future, it’s really hard to say. Maybe they see their way through the trying times of the development of self-government, or perhaps they won’t and will become a source of threats to us or to Israel. It’s a dangerous world. It always has been with the nature of threats changing from time to time. That is why we need to have clear and concise national security policies, never flinching, and our military ready for anything. One thing that I will not do, however, is allow fear to override my principles. We fight for what we think is right and good in this world, not shrink from those ideas with the consolation that perhaps only some people are good enough for self-government while others deserve the iron fist of a despot.