Thomas Sowell

It would certainly be a lot nicer if everyone laid down their guns, and just sat down together and worked things out peacefully. But has anyone forgotten that, for centuries, Protestants and Catholics slaughtered each other and tried to wipe each other out? Only after the impossibility of achieving that goal became clear did they finally give it up and decide to live and let live.

As regards Egypt, it is not at all clear that any regime that has existed after Mubarak, or that is currently on the horizon, is better than Mubarak was. But the very idea of leaving well enough alone is foreign to those who are looking for moral melodramas and soaring rhetoric, such as talk about "the Arab spring."

What did we get for our money in Egypt under Mubarak? We got peace in a part of the world where peace cannot be taken for granted -- and a part of the world from which oil provides the economic lifeblood of Western civilization.

But we could not leave well enough alone. Now we are paying the price -- and perhaps it is only the first installment of the price.

The idea that, when a government we find unsatisfactory is overthrown, we can expect a better government to follow, goes back at least as far as President Woodrow Wilson. His intervention in the First World War -- a war "to make the world safe for democracy" -- turned out to be a war whose actual end results replaced old monarchies with new, and far worse, totalitarian governments.

Barack Obama's Middle East interventions have replaced stable and neutral despots in Egypt and Libya with anti-Western despots and chaos. Such is the price of pursuing ideological mirages.

After contributing to the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood to power, and the disastrous aftermath of that, the Obama administration is now publicly lecturing Egyptian leaders, and trying to micro-manage them from thousands of miles away. And some conservatives are joining the Quixotic chorus, playing with fire.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate