The U.S. has a long history of supporting despotic regimes in the Middle East in the name of stability. They have also been surprised when supposedly stable regimes collapse almost overnight. Perhaps, argue Natan Sharansky and David Keyes, policymakers would be better served by listening to the dissidents living under these regimes:
After the Arab Spring, many of the same experts and policymakers who had insisted that the region was stable claimed that no one could have foreseen the uprisings. But this is untrue. A chorus of uniquely insightful individuals predicted exactly what would happen: the democratic dissidents who languished in prison cells in Tunisia, Libya, Syria, and Egypt. Witnesses to unimaginable injustice, these men and women felt viscerally that the dictators’ days were limited. They were the soldiers on the front line of the historical drama about to unfold. The experts simply chose not to listen.