Putin soundly criticized President Obama on his handling of the Arab Spring, which led a number of countries into total chaos.
According Putin, in part, “It is now obvious that the power vacuum created in some countries in the Middle East and North Africa, and the emergence of violent areas that were immediately filled with extremists and terrorists…”
I would suspect many in the intelligence community had the same reaction I had. The Arab Spring caused world changing instability and disaster, and Obama had no clue what was happening.
The moniker “Arab Spring” itself seems to indicate something happy and wonderful was happening. It’s kind of like when Nero was playing his fiddle,while watching the nice warm bonfire of Rome burning. Obama still doesn’t understand.
Back in my intelligence days part of my training was to understand Executive Order 12333. This is the directive which forbids the Central Intelligence Agency from doing assassinations.
Now you may think “of course not we should not be killing people, it’s not moral.” But that is not the reason, not even close. And it’s not that others will try to kill our own leadership. The intelligence world is way more pragmatic than that.
The reason you don’t do assassinations is because when you do, you create a power vacuum. That vacuum is always filled by the meanest nastiest sons of bitches within reach (pardon my language). Further, you don’t necessarily know who that will be.
It doesn’t matter what your relationships are in the area, nor your intelligence resources, you can’t predict the chaos that will ensue in a power vacuum and chaos kills. That’s why we don’t do assassinations and why we try to avoid power vacuums. We have much better and more subtle ways to handle things. Losing control is the worst possible outcome.
Putin obviously knew this. After all, he is an experienced intelligence officer, this principle is axiomatic.
The “Arab Spring” was this same principle happening in an entire region. It took down not only the leadership of these nations but much of the government structure. The chaos and instability were easily anticipated, and with quick action, the damaged could have been mitigated. Instead the vacuum was filled by the spiny critters we least wanted to be in charge.
I hope Putin has a strategy, Obama certainly doesn’t.