It must be difficult to escape from visions of grandeur, when one is the leader of a country which controlled a significant portion of the globe's land area less than a century ago. Each of us has known a compulsive do-gooder, who is never at ease unless he or she seeks to "make things better" through interventions, which usually end up making a bad situation worse. Having crammed the histories of France and the UK in their school years, it is obviously difficult to let go of the illusion that a similar degree of influence (of course, this time of the "soft" variety) can still be conjured up within former colonies. In 2011, there was a frenzy of do-gooding among the former colonial powers of Europe, joined by the US, whose foreign policy was being substantially shaped by an individual who from the start has been more European than American in her reflexes, Hillary Rodham Clinton. The cry to "make things better" was initiated by a French thinker, who passes off as a philosopher, who called on French President Nicolas Sarkozy to "save hundreds of thousands of innocent people at Benghazi". How was this very commendable task to be achieved? By unleashing bombs and missiles at clusters of human beings in Libya identified by secretive local agents as being "Gaddafi men" (and therefore not deserving of life). Sarkozy, eager to prove that rumours that he had received lavish gifts from Muammar Gaddafi were false, led a lynch mob joined by David Cameron and Hillary Clinton who finally got their man, who just years ago had turned over his WMD supplies and his military secrets to his future executioners.
Having rid Libyans of dictatorship and introduced "democracy" via rule by local warlords and terror gangs, the do-gooder trio turned to Syria, marking Bashar Assad for the same fate as the Libyan dictator. In Libya, about a fourth of the country's tribes — mostly located in the east and to a smaller extent, in the centre — wanted Gaddafi to go, mainly for tribal reasons, or because he was seen as an apostate by Wahhabis. Together with targeted attacks by NATO, such support proved sufficient to defeat Gaddafi. However, in Syria, the proportion of Wahhabis within the Sunni population is less than 15%, while this time around, Moscow growled in menace at the prospect of one of its closest allies being taken down and replaced by a hitherto nameless individual chosen by a half-dozen secret services for the single quality of docile obedience to their commands, which were often delivered in public, on the Iraq model. From the start, the fighting was done by the more fanatic amongst those who sought the ouster of Assad, mainly because he was an Alawite, a sect regarded with as much hatred amongst Wahhabis in Syria as Ahmadiyas are in Pakistan.
These were gifted cash, weapons and training under the supervision of Turkey, France, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and in a year, morphed into what is now termed ISIS. This transformation from ersatz moderate was predicted (for example, by this columnist), but the Clinton-Sarkozy-Cameron trio did not bother to check on the possibility that — as in Afghanistan — those given weapons may some day turn against their benefactors. Soon, Syria became as unsafe for non-fanatics as Libya had become after the do-gooders completed their work of ridding the globe of Gaddafi and much of his family and friends.
The forced removal from office of a dictator, who, by that time, posed zero threat to the security interests of the US, France and the UK, led to the effort to do likewise with Assad, beginning a chain of consequences that are these days ending up as corpses in refrigerator vans across the western part of Europe. Each such death is the direct consequence of decisions taken by Hillary Clinton, Nicolas Sarkozy (later followed by Francois Hollande) and David Cameron, but in obedience to the principle that members of the NATO alliance cannot by definition be guilty of human rights violations, blame is being placed on "people smugglers". These creatures are far down the chain of responsibility for the situation in Libya, Syria and now Iraq, and while they deserve jail and worse, what about those who took the decisions which led to the present chaos? Cameron has been re-elected, although he appears to have lost somewhat his appetite for missiles and bombs as instruments to promote human rights.
As for Hillary Clinton, her objective is to become the lawful occupant of the White House office once occupied by her husband. Thus far, there seems to be little talk of the way in which decisions taken by the former Secretary of State have led to misery and violence across huge swathes of territory. But of course, like Cameron and Sarkozy, Clinton has a "007" licence to take decisions which lead to a horrendous loss of lives without any visible consequences.
By 2017, more than three million people from the locations "improved" by the do-gooders in Paris, London and Washington are likely to reach some shore or the other of Europe, and practically all of them will over time become permanent residents of countries within the EU. Perhaps that was the intention of the trio, to reverse population decline in Europe and populate the continent with the young, this time from North Africa and West Asia.