Getting Rid of the Bad Guys

The Arab Spring started out with great hope after regime change in Tunisia and Egypt. But since those heady days of protest and renewal, the region has settled into a discouraging chaos and hardening of power positions.

It looks like someone in his inner circle will have to kill Gaddafi in order to get him out of Libya, Yemen is in a state of civil war as armed tribes vie for control, and Syria’s al Assad appears ready to murder as many of his own countrymen and women as necessary in order to stay in control.  Other countries like the sheikdoms of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have clamped down on demonstrations and democratization, and Iraq seems to be sliding into a bloody terrorism.

What started out as a movement with great hope and promise is now just a mess of violence and oppression. So what happened? The simple answer is that removing dictators who have been in power for 20,30, or 40 years, especially those dictatorships that are really family-run empires, is no easy task; in fact such regime change is the most difficult process of governmental reform possible.

These dictators and their extended families have too much at stake to just give up when there is political turmoil and challenges to their authority. Also it is important to remember that over the years these guys have amassed huge stores of weapons and trained elite troops to keep the lid on a restive society.

A ragtag army of citizen soldiers or protestors is not going to dislodge a well-organized dictatorial army and security policy in a few days of vigorous protest. Just look at Libya where NATO planes have been bombing Gaddafi’s troops and military infrastructure for weeks without success. Bold talk by European leaders is not going to make Gaddafi leave his compound for exile.

The Arab Spring will likely turn out to be an Arab Summer, Fall and Winter and more Springs before the dictators are removed from power, if they are ever removed from power.

What can be expected over the next weeks and months is more bloodshed and more anger as protests fail to bring change and certaily fail to bring any semblance of democracy. It is just too difficult to get rid of the bad guys.

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