As you have undoubtedly heard by now, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is dead, which pretty much signals the end to Libya's civil war. As the saying goes, it's all over but the mopping up. Now that we have helped to overthrow the dictator, America has to ask itself: did we back the right horse in this conflict?
There is no question that Gadhafi needed to go. America has too long of a history of getting into bed with Middle-Eastern dictators because they happen to be mildly pro-America: we did it with Saddam, with Mubarak, with the Shah in Iran, and with Gadhafi. Our willingness to ally ourselves with tyrants and dictators out of political convenience is a stain on the honor of our great nation, and has come back to bite us several times in recent history.
We all saw the massive protest movement in Tahrir Square that swept Egypt's Mubarak out of power, and replaced him with the Muslim Brotherhood (definitely not
a religious organization according to the MSM, despite the "Muslim" in the organization's name). Now, Christians and Jews in Egypt face increasing persecution, as Islamic militants seek to drive them out or kill them.
Now that Gadhafi is dead, Libya is headed in much the same direction.
The question that supporters of the Arab Spring should be asking is, how does it benefit the United States, the Middle East region, and the world to allow the Middle East to descend into a conglomeration of hard-line Islamic republics? Is democracy so precious that we should allow tyrannical dictators to be replaced by democratically elected regimes that will commit even worse abuses?
With protest movements popping up all across the globe, the entire world needs to be aware of the situation in Libya. The United States had a choice: we could either come down on the side of the tyrannical dictator, or we could come down on the side of the tyrannical Islamists. Not much of a choice. But there was a third option, that would have been much more palatable. We could have stayed out of the whole mess. We could have stood for freedom against both sides of the conflict.
Instead, our foreign policy dictated that we make up for past wrongs, backing hard-line Islamic rebels against the dictator we had previously supported, ignoring all of the road signs along the way that were constantly signaling that the rebels were not the good guys everyone seemed to think they were... and now the headlines read "more radical then expected." Backing Gadhafi was the wrong move, but how much blood will America have on our hands when our new friends take over?
The situation in the Middle East is more dire than many Americans realize. The Iranian regime is increasingly belligerent, continuing their nuclear ambitions, violently suppressing protests, supporting unrest in the West via the Occupy movement, and even attempting to assassinate a foreign dignitary in the United States. Unrest in Syria has gotten so bad that the US just recalled the ambassador over safety concerns. Flagging support for Israel by the Obama administration has emboldened enemies of both Israel and the West. Saudi Arabia is facing increasing unrest among their Sunni communities. The riots and protests that started in Tunisia have now spread through Egypt, Libya Syria, Bahrain, Lebanon, Kuwait, Oman, Morocco, Jordan, Algeria, Iraq, Yemen, and the borders of Israel. With protests, unrest, and continuing financial turmoil mounting in the West, the Free World is ill-equipped to handle a scenario where hard-line Islamists begin to take over across the Middle East and North Africa.
The jury is still out on how the Arab Spring unrest will turn out, but officials in the US would do well to consider that it's not enough to right past wrongs -- we must consider the consequences of our actions. It's not enough to remove the dictators if we allow worse tyrants to take their place. As I have stated before, it's not enough just to stand up for democracy, we need to stand up for the more important value: freedom.