|Former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi|
With Gaddafi having been in power over 40 years (since the Nixon administration to put it into context), his imminent demise poses large questions about what happens next in Libya.
As the Arab Spring continues in to fall, Libya is just the latest Arab nation making headlines as civil unrest spreads across the Middle East and Northern Africa. Since last December, we have seen political revolutions resulting in the ousting of longtime dictatorial leaders in Tunisia, Egypt , and Libya, and we have witnessed uprisings and civil protests in Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, and other Arab states.
The fire of rebellion spreading through the Arab world is exciting, and the idea that real organic democracy (not the Bush-imposed brand used in Iraq) may take hold in these nations inspires hope. With these revolutions though also comes uncertainty, and a pressing need for cautious and balanced American diplomacy and leadership (this is not time for walking tall and carrying a big stick).
As we celebrate the downfall of cruel and tyrannical dictators, we should all, regardless of political affiliation, hope our leaders are capable of thoughtfully positioning the U.S. favorably in great Arab unknown. The Arab Spring presents historical opportunities for our nation to forge new positive relationships in the Arab world. Our leaders must exercise enormous care to make sure we take an appropriate role in these events that allows us to leverage these opportunities to make new friends, or at least to avoid making new enemies.