As despots and strongmen across the Middle East and North Africa struggle against their own citizens for control of their countries, should the US be doing more to help along this popular unrest? On Russia Today, The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel and NYU's Stephen Cohen say the US should allow the uprisings to take their own course if we really want to play a productive role in the future of the region. What the world is witnessing, vanden Heuvel and Cohen say, are not really democracy movements so much as they are the outpourings of nations fed up with living under dictatorships.
The repression of these strongmen was fueling terrorism, vanden Heuvel says, as dictators increasingly interacted with their citizens through their militaries or security forces. With newly-opened societies, economic and social development will be critical, and the US now has a chance to support "civic governance" in the region.
What we should not do, vanden Heuvel says, is intervene in Libya: "I wish the UN had more capacity to end violence and bloodshed in places like Libya," she says, but if the US attempts to get involved unilaterally in the country, it would dangerously destabilize the situation and might even get in the way of forces who, vanden Heuvel thinks, are very close to ousting Qadaffi.