I’d like to go further than the Faceless Bureaucrat did an hour or so ago.. I should also know that amongst my students he has become ‘the freelance bureaucrat’ for no good reason at all (my first years just read the FB-Betz exchange on freedom of speech as alternative reading on the reading list).
Anyhow, my proposition and provocation is simple:
The enemies of our enemies have universally proved to be more problematic than the original enemy. Certainly in the last fifteen years.
* Saddam was decidedly horrid, but after Gulf War I was also decidedly stable. The situation that followed him, the influence of Iran in the country, and the new leadership are no improvement (if you can see past some flawed elections).
* The Taliban were not to our taste, and a threat via the harbouring of training camps, but the situation that has followed is a dysfunctional money-pit and a rapid return to the 1980s…
* In Zimbabwe, the international clamour to replace Mugabe went quiet when it was assessed that the military and security hierarchy that sits to his left and right were even more dangerous than he is/was.
* Egypt looked promising, then Morsi got excited and decided he was Mubarak-redux, and from a international politics perspective, Mubarak was a force for stability and constructive engagement with Israel (contested, for sure).
* Libya.. we got excited about the opposition, but we didn’t know who they were or what they were intending and that’s gone badly too.
* And now Syria, where the opposition groups we’re all officially quite excited about have allegedly massacred Alawite’s (who have broadly supported Assad).
So, like an emergent isolationist from my previous muscular liberal past… I say again, all of the enemies of our enemies, are worse devils than the ones we know… We should have moved for strategies of containment.