We are far from the end of the Libyan story. It is not Arab Spring there and it is not Tripoli Spring, proclaimed more than two years ago by the Human Rights staffer, either. Much blood will yet flow before another dictatorship, milder maybe than the colonel’s, rules in the Libyan Maghreb. Please do not fantasize that we are waiting for a republic, let alone a democratic republic. It is not in the cards. It is not in the culture. It is not in anything.
Nor should we expect anyone other than another pharaoh as a successor to Mubarak. He will not be a liberal or tolerant democrat. Of course, the pharaoh might be a star in the firmament of the Muslim Brotherhood. Or he may be (yes, among the Arabs, it will always be a “he”) one of the faceless bureaucrats who were dispatched from Cairo to be a plenipotentiary at the Arab League or even someone who has “diplomatic experience” at the U.N. If he comes from either of these establishments he will be a superlative liar, a liar even to himself. My guess is that, whoever he is, he will have to have made his peace with the generals. In the meantime, although having to make compromises with others, and especially the religious fanatics, it is the military that runs the show. But this military is a more civil (not more civilian) military, more civil certainly than the Iraqi military, which was really a Hitlerian military in its eagerness to carry out the macabre disciplines of murdering civilians. And more civil than the present Syrian military.
Whose brutality since the Ba’ath revolution has been legend, true and curdling legend. Yet please note that, despite the horrifying routines of the Syrian army towards civilians, the American government with its western European allies have vested action against Damascus in the Security Council where the last words are the words of those who veto. This is a predictable process, really a routine—except against Colonel Qaddafi’s Libya when France, the United Kingdom, plus Italy made it a NATO action and dragged America along (to be sure, with decisive technology) so that our country could claim to have led from behind. Apparently, Assad’s offenses are far less heinous than Qaddafi’s. At least that’s what we’d surely have to conclude from the differences in the way the western powers have treated their crimes: war against Qaddafi, diplomatic and financial sanctions against Assad…
The failure of the Arab Spring is only the last chapter in the long-time failure of Arabs to tolerate, to make peace among themselves, to learn from others, to accept that a belief is not always or even usually a fact, to recognize that a mirage is a mirage.