During years the liberal democratic countries supported authoritarian friendly regimes in the Arab world. They even enjoyed the perks of having friendly soil in which some of the limitations of the democratic world did not apply. They also gained some tranquillity from the dreaded dream of extreme Islam control over those countries.
The west never turned its back to these allies, until they really needed its support. The west first sin was never making a real effort to create a liberal social infrastructure in these countries. Dictatorship was just fine. They didn't want to take any risks. So, they sacrificed principals for realpolitik.
However, when their allies needed them and were really threatened, the second sin took the stage. The west's secular allies were sacrificed also in the name of realpolitik. A stupid idea that this will get the west some points with the upcoming regimes.
The role of left parties and thinkers in this play of hypocrisy, betrayal and short sighting is appalling and showing again the weakness versus opposing forces in house and worldwide. The voices raising mainly from the European left who preferred to side with the Muslim Brotherhood s and not with the secular Authoritarian regimes are just incomprehensible. One could understand if they had fiercely supported liberal-secular groups and warned them from playing into the hands of the Islamist extremists, but that was not the case in Egypt, isn't in Syria and was never with the Palestinians.
Now the liberal countries look hypocritical for not promoting what they claim to be their core liberal values and for not standing by its official allies or even by its ideological allies (liberal sectors). And all this, for what? For supporting upcoming regimes which ideologically will be opposed to liberalism, that will clash with the small liberal elites in this countries.
In a tough neighborhood a man with no principals and no friends left has only one resource in hand - force. You can definitely expect that force will be needed. So much blood will be shed in order to reassert what was lost during years of hypocrisy.
The most amazing thing of all is how some columnists are partying and declaring that Russia's stand is getting weaker together with Al-Assad. In the very short term and tactically speaking this is correct. However, you tell me - next time you'll be out looking for an ally - who would you like by your side - Obama and Sarkozy (pick any European leader) or Putin?
Liberals should have made a priority to support the liberals in every country and then apply realpolitik to serve their needs or just stick by their allies. What's done is done. Now it is time to reassess who are the liberalism's allies.
A personal note as someone living in the middle east. I believe there is no way around. The nations of the region have a chance to take a great lesson on self defining their fate. We will all pay the price of these lessons, either high or low, but there is no way around learning and experiencing which was never done. Like in Europe, when people didn't understand the benefits of democracy and liberalism they easily gave it up. Eventually, I believe, things will improve. You ask: when will this occur? Sincerely, I have no idea.