Of course had we acted when it was a humanitarian undertaking, as the French and British wanted, we knew who they were. Now it's a confused mess because the people who were demonstrating against tyranny have now become warriors fighting a civil war for their very survival.
Egypt's Mubarak must be wondering why he didn't hang on. He no doubt thought a western coalition would remove him from office if he didn't do it himself. How wrong he was!
Others, as I had anticipated, have been watching and waiting. Syria in particular. What had been expected to be a speech outlining major reform turned out to be anything but. President Assad has dug in his heels and has deemed protesters in his country traitors. This does not bode well for them.
While the fear mongers in the media would have us believe radical Muslims are behind all these actions, that is not the case. It has been students and the population tired of unemployment, lack of opportunity, totalitarian government and a sub-par standard of living. Now, however, the time is ripe for extremists to move into the vacuum the west has left. Will the rebels accept their help?
I think if I were them I would. Mainly because if the governments win, the rebels can kiss their lives good bye. It's already happening as the Libyan government forces are regaining what had been lost. Any hope may well be better than no hope. They can be dealt with at a later time. For that too happen, however, there has to be a faction that survives.
I am sorry for the people of various countries in the region who have not yet had their protests resolved. I am sorry that they were naive enough to protest without being prepared to step into governance before they began. I am sorry that they have been forced into wars they are not prepared to fight. I am sorry they don't even know how to fire the weapons that have fallen into their hands.
I am concerned that this whole middle eastern exercise is going to set the cause of freedom for the people back decades. The dictators are going to be more wary and brutal. The people are going to be wary of overtures from the west having been burned once already. The extremists will pick up speed in their efforts to organize. What will the west do?
It may not matter. Our leader looks weak. Other nations will realize that we are not what we once were and it will take those same decades to earn back their respect, if we even try.
If the people of those countries try again, collectively, like this time, they will undoubtedly not look to the west. What help they will find is any one's guess. I'm willing to bet, however, that the student warriors we claim not to know today are a whole lot better than what may lay ahead.