Six months into the Arab spring—the unrest that has forced out some of the Middle East’s most well-entrenched dictatorships—it seems apparent that the rest won’t all simply collapse like dominoes. Moammar Gadhafi is staying put in Libya even as Nato planes are swooping into Tripoli on bombing runs. He’s also?ignored?condemnation over allegations that rape is being used as a weapon of intimidation.
In Syria, meanwhile, President Bashar Assadis facing down protesters by shooting them dead, a tradition not exactly foreign to the Ba’athist tradition. But are those seeking their ouster guilty of impatience, irritated that a bunch of autocrats they used to support isn’t taking the hint and pushing off into exile? Given that the movement has been resolutely non-fundamentalist in character until now, trying to force regime change may lead to the sort of backlash that the rest of the world could do without.