"They made a wilderness and called it peace." The great Roman historian Tacitus was talking about Roman policies of waging war. If he was talking about American foreign policy in the 21st century, he would say,
They made a chaos, and called it democracy.
The experiment of imposing instant democracy on Iraq (like instant coffee, just add hot water and stir) in 2003 fanned the flames of a civil war that left more than 750,000 dead -- not counting around 100,000 people who died in the US conquest of Мarch-April 2003, the literal anarchy that followed it, and one trillion dollars bill on top of it. But nothing was learned from it - nothing. The pundits of the American media, led by Thomas Friedman of the New York Times are now relentlessly seeking to replicate that "triumph" in Syria. And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appears deaf and blind to the dangers of genocidal ethnic massacres and threats of a far wider war that the violent toppling of the Syrian government would bring.
More than a year ago, I predicted in a Fox News column that Muammar Qaddafi in Libya and Bashar al-Assad would hang on for dear life in the face of the Arab Spring democratic uprisings and that it would take force - a lot of it -- to get rid of either of them.
I also expressed scathing skepticism at the hallelujahs of joy by all our neo-liberal and neo-conservative "friends" that a wonderful new era of democracy, western style was about to dawn over the Middle East. I warned that the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and of Qaddafi in Libya would be followed by the rise of far more intolerant, extremist regimes.
Well, sure enough, Qaddafi is finally dead and gone. But it cost tens of thousands of lives and it required a sustained NATO air campaign in support of the so-called "democratic" opposition to suppress his well-equipped mercenary forces, even though they were miserably trained and small in number.
Now a lot of crocodile tears are being shed over what the Western media are euphemistically referring to as "the humanitarian crisis" in Syria. There certainly is a humanitarian crisis there all right. But anyone who believes that forcing President Assad out is going to magically bring a nice bright shiny new perfect democracy with leaders who carefully read the New York Times every day belongs in Cloud Cuckoo Land alongside Secretary of State Clinton.
Through the long decades of the Cold War, the United States claimed to be the champion of established governments and of upholding stability around the world against the perceived challenge of revolutionary communism. In the time of Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev, the Kremlin poured the wealth and strength of a superpower into quixotic support for repressive and economically bankrupt governments from Iraq to Afghanistan. All Brezhnev did was bankrupt his own country.
But today, those roles have been reversed in a way Georg Friedrich Hegel, the great philosopher of history, would have recognized very well.
It is the United States that is in blind thrall to a pure political ideology that must be imposed as soon as possible and without any compromise or moderation on almost every country around the world. In the past year, this obsessive, even demented attention has first focused on Egypt, then Libya, and now Syria.
Americans don't want to be told the world is still a dangerous and complicated place where the major governments, most of the one in Washington, need to move slowly and carefully, taking the national security and interests of other major powers into careful account. That principle is essential to the maintenance of world peace in the 21st century.
There are a lot of dangerous fools out there who are calling for the United States to jump into the Syrian minefield to magically make everything bright and shiny and new -- just it has succeeded in doing so well in Afghanistan and Iraq. They never dream that the military interventions they love so much in dangerous, complicated foreign conflicts could ever bring destruction back on their own heads - and on everybody else's.
By Martin Sieff