Brendan,I am not sure if you


I am not sure if you have read this entire thread, but I would recommend it.  We have managed to stay surprisingly focused and civil throughout, and it is one of our best efforts.  We actually sound like quality analysts here.

What do we do about other countries that might be encouraged to forego peaceful protests and take up arms with the expectations that the West will bail them out if things get too tough?  (Jay)
Two small coments on that point [Jay]: First, I think the success of Egypt helps, and has provided hope for many that (almost) peaceful change is possible (notwithstanding the outcome there). Libya is a rare occasion of action to support basic principals of respect for your citizens, their right to protest and demands for change. Second, when things do get really, really bad and the "west" can bail them out, as in this case, before such nascent movements can defend themselves, why would we not?

If you read the thread, you will get some insight into my feelings on interventions in the Arab world.  I have to say that I am in agreement with the official German position here: I understand the need to protect Libyan civilians, but overall I think intervention in Libya is a horrible idea.  Some of my own quotes given to Eric in the previous post might give you a synopsis why if you don't have the energy to read the thread.

I am not sure what you mean by "the success of Egypt", or how that would apply to other rebelling states.  Egypt is a special case as it is has the benefit of an American trained military keeping the peace during a (hopeful) democratic to transition.  At the risk of being politically incorrect--and being called a "racist" by Momo--I would like to point out that the Arabs are notoriously difficult to lead.  Arab culture is paternalistic, uncompromising, and extremely hierarchichal in nature.  That does not translate well into the democratic process.  If you don't get everything you want, you walk out of the talks.  You boycott the elections if they move on without you, and then declare the results illegitimate because you didn't participate.  If you are interested in politics and follow international events, you have seen this happen ad nauseum.

Things are not "done" in Egypt and Tunisia.  These societies need a lot of help from the West, in terms of coaching, cajoling, flat-out bribery, and open threats if they are going to make things work in the two countries with the best shot at democracy.  (That was the initial purpose of this thread, if you read the lead post.)  I want Hillary Clinton to buy a house in Egypt, and keep her ass permanently engaged in the transistion to democracy.

Given all that I have said above, forgive me for the acerbic observation that it is no surprise that Arabs often wind up with a dictator for a leader, because plurality and majority consensus prove too difficult to achieve.  Hence my point: the Arabs need more time to develop politically.  If you are going to intervene you are just inhibiting their trajectory.  If they have noticed that dictators do indeed suck, they are going to have to fight for democracy.  Yes, Momo, in certain cases "bombs for peace" does make political sense.

Libya is farther down the political evolutionary ladder than Egypt, and we should approach it as such.  We should also carefully analyze each state striving to throw off the chains of dictatorship, and decide whether our best intentions will actually lead to the best results.  We should take a lesson from the Chinese here: the less you interfere the better.


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