Now it’s Libya.
The popular uprisings in the Arab/Muslim world are getting intense. Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Iran, now Libya.
That each of these states could stand some serious reform is beyond dispute. However, with the possible exception of Libya, none of those states could be described as “as bad as possible.”
Bill Cosby has a whole routine about how “you don’t challenge ‘worse.'” And there’s an aphorism in football that “when you throw the ball, there are three possible outcomes — two of whom are bad.”
We’re already seeing signs that the change in Egypt is trending towards a more militant form of Islam. Persecution of Coptic Christians are increasing, and the Google exec who played a key role in the movement is being shoved aside.
In Libya, no one really knows what the hell is going on.
In Iran, the mullahs are cracking down, looking to solidify their hold on power and keep the general unrest in the region from taking root. They, too, remember The Spirit of ’79 that swept them into power.
One of the reasons I supported the toppling of Saddam Hussein was to put the petty tyrants and theocrats and kleptocrats in the region on notice that they did not have a warranty on their thrones, and to encourage the common folks to take stands for their own liberty. That wavered considerably over the intervening years, but now seems to be coming to fruition.
Will it end up like the insurrections against Saddam after the first Gulf War, when the Kurds and the southern Iraqis took our encouragement, then were left high and dry when we didn’t support them?
Will it end up like Iran, when the reform movement gets hijacked by the Islamists?
Will it end up like Afghanistan after the Soviets pulled out, with ferocious internal fighting?
I dunno. And anyone who says they do know is a damned liar.
But I do know that this is a time for “smart diplomacy” and serious intelligence, so we can see how things are trending and figure out how to get ahead of the curve in at least one or two places.
But the chances of getting that from this current administration could go to either extreme:
Fat chance and slim chance.