Victor Davis Hanson: First, Do No Harm in the Middle East

Roundup: Historians' Take

[Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author, most recently, of The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern]

At some point, the Obama administration is going to recognize a simple paradox that has been apparent to almost everyone but them: In theory, those pro-American autocratic regimes that are tottering or gone (the Gulf States, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, etc.) should have been more amenable to gradual progressive change. They did not exercise so savage a degree of control as was the norm elsewhere in the Middle East. In matters of religious fundamentalism and intolerance, they were sometimes more reasonable than their own populaces. They were less likely to foment unrest in the region at large, seek to acquire WMD, or harbor terrorists.

In contrast, totalitarian autocratic regimes that are anti-American (Libya, Syria, Iran, etc.) are far crueler — and far less likely to fall, given their readiness to use unlimited violence against their own. They were often more rabid in their ideologies than their own populations, and far more likely to foment unrest in the region at large, etc....

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