“The West is trying to impose its moral norms on the Muslim world with bribes and interventions, while the Muslim world imposes its norms on the West by settling and blowing up Western cities. Within that chaos, the passenger planes depositing their cargoes of Pakistanis, Jordanians and Somalis at Heathrow, JFK and Charles de Gaulle Airport (the latter two names being quite fitting considering JFK’s impact on immigration policy and de Gaulle’s impact on North Africa) and the fighter jets and drones flying over North Africa and the Middle East, are a hundred small wars.”
The French are in Mali now, being shot at by Islamists armed with the very same weapons that France airdropped into Libya. Either those or the weapons that France sold to Gaddafi in the preceding period when European countries were competing to be his arms dealers. The joke is equally bleak, either way.
It used to be that decades would have to pass before a bad policy unraveled, but these days it only takes a few years to go from arming a tyrant to arming the rebels to shooting at the rebels.
In less time than it takes a pop star to go from fresh faced to train wrecked, Saif Gaddafi went from the toast of European academics to a mass murderer, Gaddafi’s opposition went from Al Qaeda terrorists to brave rebels, then the brave rebels, many of whom were actually Iraqis, Tunisians and Jordanians, shot up an American diplomatic mission, hooked up with some of Gaddafi’s Tuaregs to take over Northern Mali, shot them up and began carving out their own Islamist Emirate.
In barely two years, Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt, went from screaming that Egyptian children “must feed on hatred” to the toast of foreign diplomatic circles as the same geniuses behind the invasion of Libya try to make the best of handing over the most powerful country in the region into the hands of a terrorist organization.
In that same period, Syria’s Assad went from the pages of Vogue and meetings with John Kerry to being the most reviled man in the world. But two years from now, if he survives the worst that the Syrian rebels, most of whom are Al Qaeda or wish they were, you might well find him meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry while his family gets another four pages in Vogue Magazine.
In two years, the evil ruthless dictators who kill and torture their own people have been replaced by ruthless democratically elected dictators who kill and torture their own people. In Egypt and Tunisia things are worse now than they were under the “dictators” and unsurprisingly the one thing that they can all agree on is that it’s America’s fault.
The press can’t be expected to pay much attention to these events. The media will provide the obligatory coverage of Muslim Brotherhood torture chambers in Egypt and the labor riots in Tunisia. But it would really like to spend its time lamenting Israel’s fall to the far right by covering the rise of a political party which holds the shocking and outrageous position that the twenty year old peace process has failed and should be wrapped up and put away.
It seemed like only a few weeks ago that the cognoscenti were enthusiastically predicting a new Middle East, sending reporters in droves to be kidnapped and molested at the celebrations of freedom and democracy. And now the new Middle East looks a lot like the old Middle East.