Excerpts from Destabilizer-in-Chief by Mario Loyola in National Review:
The Arab Spring began with great hope around the world. But the Arab Spring was no mere rebellion against authoritarian regimes. It was the crisis of legitimacy of the brittle Arab states that arose in the wake of decolonization. Whether it will leave behind something better or worse is a question on which the fate of the world in the 21st century greatly depends. Bush’s pro-democracy agenda to some extent anticipated the challenge for U.S. policy, propelled by a dark harbinger of things to come — the 9/11 attacks, which had revealed the ability of terrorist networks to wage war on a par with states. But the “Bush doctrine” seemed largely discredited by the time he left office, and Obama happily jettisoned it.
But he replaced it with nothing. The Syrian civil war has revealed the gaping lack of a consensus U.S. strategy to deal with the new global security environment. Even if Assad wins the war, it would not be a return to the status quo ante of a mass-torturing state-sponsor of terrorism. As Philip Bobbitt suggests in Terror and Consent (2009), the 21st century will replace the state-sponsor of terrorism with the terrorist-sponsor of states. In Lebanon, we have already witnessed the ascendancy of Hezbollah over the government. In Syria, as a result of the civil war, the Assad regime has become, and will continue to be, a pawn of Hezbollah and the Quds Force, which in turn increasingly dominates Iran.
In the Middle East we are witnessing a struggle between opposing terrorist networks for control of entire states. By withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq, helping assure Assad’s victory in Syria, and failing to back Israel forcefully enough, Obama has empowered all the terrorist networks in the Middle East simultaneously.