My Take

Clear evidence from Middle East: regime change only leads to misery

Does getting rid of nasty dictators mean democracy will magically emerge?

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 September, 2015, 1:28am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 September, 2015, 1:28am

Hardcore democrats, in their ideological zest, would risk instability and the collapse of governments to advance their cause.

Political realists, who are opposed to ideological zest, prefer stability over any ideological cause. If the risks are high and the outcome uncertain, the imperfect status quo along with all its ethical compromises may be preferable.

The leaders in Moscow and Beijing have all along been supreme realists on the Middle East and particularly the Arab Spring.

They must now be shaking their heads at Western countries, particularly Britain, France and the United States with their interventionist foreign policies, and thinking, "I told you so."

The wave after wave of desperate refugees fleeing northern Africa and the Middle East to the shores of Europe today is one of the most terrible consequences of the so-called Arab Winter, which followed the euphoric Spring with civil wars, anarchy, pervasive terrorism and collapse of governments.

The Chinese and Russians have long argued that effecting regime changes in the Middle Eastern powder keg would only worsen conditions, introduce greater instabilities and encourage extremism.

Beijing's policy of non-interference, irresponsible in many cases, is well-suited to dealing with the region.

Moscow and Beijing are, of course, being cynical and self-serving, seeing how their regimes are authoritarian and would not want to see successful democratic changes sweeping across the Middle East.

But, this does not mean they are wrong. In fact, they have been remarkably prescient.

The widespread belief that by getting rid of nasty dictators, democracy - rather than chaos - will magically emerge is one of the central myths of our time.

Has it been worth it for the Egyptians to suffer two bloody regime changes only to end up with Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi? Is he better than Hosni Mubarak?

Has all the bloodshed, torture and horrors been worthwhile in trying to effect regime changes in Iraq, Libya and Syria, only to see all of them descending into civil war?

What about the current bloodletting in Yemen, spearheaded by Saudi Arabia with weapons sold by the US and Britain?

Thanks in no small part to misguided Western policies, in the place of democracy, we now have the insurgent group Islamic State and the refugee crisis.