Walter Russell Mead: Dubya Gets a Third Term in the Middle East

Roundup: Historians' Take

Walter Russell Mead is professor of foreign affairs and the humanities at Bard College and editor-at-large of The American Interest. 

With the forces of humanitarianism and international law, or at least the forces of his tribal and religious enemies, closing in on his Tripoli lair, Africa’s King of Kings and Loon of Loons is on the verge of overthrow.

And in Damascus, Butcher Assad, the world’s most notorious opthamologist, watched the Great Loon’s last stand as he contemplated the prospect of economic sanctions that could cut into his bullet and thug budget, reducing the rate at which he is able to slaughter his opponents and possibly even threatening his hold on power.

Via Meadia has wanted both the Loon and the Butcher gone for a long time; we only wish the Dear Leader of North Korea and the Lion of Zimbabwe were packing their luggage under similar time pressure.  They can be strung up in the streets like Mussolini, they can kill themselves in their last redoubts like Hitler, they can go to the Hague like Milosevic, or they can go to Saudi Arabia like Idi Amin.  (Not acceptable: going like Baby Doc to the south of France.) But they need to go.

What this means for the people of Libya and Syria will only slowly become clear.  The Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions were less disruptive and violent than the Libyan civil war, and both countries possessed institutions stronger than anything left in Libya today.  The future is still murky in Egypt and Tunisia; six months from now the future of Libya will likely also still be hard to predict.

Strikingly, much of the celebratory commentary over the fall of Tripoli overlooked the comparison to the fall of Baghdad when jubilation soon gave way to other emotions.  “Mission accomplished!” was the dominant theme on the nets.  Memories are short in the Tweet Age, but 2003 was not all that long ago...

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