The following quote was taken from author Daniel Silva’s thriller The English Spy. I think it is one of the more eloquent and representative laments over the major powers’ contemporary strategies and actions in the Middle East.
“The Arab Spring had turned into the Arab Calamity. Radical Islam now controlled a swath of territory that stretched from Afghanistan to Nigeria, an accomplishment that even Bin Laden would have never dreamed possible. It might have been funny were it not so dangerous – and so utterly predictable. The American president had allowed the old order to topple without a viable alternative in place, a reckless act with no precedent in modern statecraft.”
If the West had managed the establishment of a new Iraqi government with much more local understanding and military might and much less corruption, perhaps Iraq would be a stable country today and ISIS would be a much less deadly shadow of its current self.
Nevertheless, I am not deluding myself that ISIS would not exist or would not have the strength to take over swaths of territory. I am proposing simply that the region would be less volatile and less unsafe if the birth of ISIS occurred under more stable conditions.
From that, I would posit that while external parties (such as foreign governments) can and should provide guidance and support to the opposition of authoritarian regimes, it should be noted that democracy and capitalism is not always the goal of all opposition groups. It is therefore better for the main revolutionary impetus to come locally as the people of the country would appreciate the revolutionary hardships more from their own purposes and be more invested in the movement.
It is good for the hardiness and health of a democracy for the locals to realize the value of democracy themselves and want this liberty in spite of the hardships of achieving it.
While guidance and support to minimize chaos and casualties is paramount and desired, the people will make the decision to overthrow if they have had enough of an authoritarian regime; and they should, preferably on the principle of democracy. For the most part, it is not our place to decide the appropriate time for revolution against tyranny. Advice, yes. Decision, no.
The Arab Spring led to the dissolution of much order and the propagation of much violence and death in the Muslim world; but, if the West had invested more towards stability, then the chaos and violence might have been minimized in the wake of revolts and revolutions that were due to occur.