The euphemistically-named Arab Spring and its aftermath have made me think it might be time to offer a post re-explaining my brand of neocon thinking. After all, haven’t recent events proven neoconism to be bankrupt?
But before I reinvented the wheel, I thought I’d look back and see what I’d already written on the subject. And it turns out that in a two-part post I wrote back in February of 2007, I pretty much said what I’d want to say today. Some of the details are different—Egypt isn’t Iraq (unlike Iraq, Egypt was initially an ally when Mubarak was deposed, and unlike Irag, there was no US invasion).
No doubt there are a few things I’d change if I were writing the pieces today. But the general principles of my particular brand of neoconism (neo-neoconism?) are expressed in those essays from over five years ago. So I’ll just refer you to them:
Note particularly the following quote, in terms of recent events in Egypt and the role of the Obama administration:
Once the decision was made that it was necessary to remove Saddam, the US faced the question of what its role should be in determining what sort of government might replace him. These were the choices: (a) walk away and let things sort themselves out without US help (likely to result in much bloodshed and a new tyrant of some sort, and perhaps a worse one); (b) in the time-honored realpolitik manner, install a dictator friendly to us who would crack down on the opposition in a Draconian way; or (c) try to help establish a functioning liberal democracy.
The Bush Administration chose (c) as the best of a bad lot (“bad” in the case of (c) only because of its difficulty in execution), and in doing so they made the error of underestimating the murderous forces arrayed against them. But those who criticize the decision are comparing choice (c) to an imaginary ideal alternative that simply did not exist.
In Egypt, it appears that Obama made choice (a).