February 23rd, 2011
05:38 PM ET

What's likely to fill the power vacuums in Middle East?


Egyptians return home from the Sallum border crossing with Libya as they flee political turmoil in the midst of an insurrection against Moammar Gadhafi's regime. (PHOTO CREDIT: AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The political uprisings across the Middle East and northern Africa have paved the way for change for millions of people who have never known life outside a dictatorship. For the rest of us watching at home, those uprisings have created a lot of questions about the future of a region rich with oil and not exactly starved of anti-Americanism.

Until Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned earlier this month, one party had held all that nation's political power for decades. Other parties were banned or restricted in power. The military is running things now, but who will eventually be in charge?

Moammar Gadhafi has ruled over Libya with a culture of fear since 1969. If he goes – and it looks like he will – what's next? And what if the ruling Sunni family in Bahrain flees and allows the Shiite majority to take control of that tiny nation? Some say it's only a matter of time before they embrace Iranian politics. And of course, what does it all mean for nations like the United States?

In a piece for the Daily Beast, Leslie Gelb writes, "To be blunt, I don't know anyone who has the foggiest idea where these revolutions from Algeria to the borders of Saudi Arabia are going or whether future leaders there will be true democrats or new dictators."

Gelb says he's hoping for – but not betting on – a brighter more democratic future for these countries.

After all, we've got a lot at stake over there. And it's not just about oil. It's anti-terrorist operations, it's U.S. military presence and how our foreign policy fits in the changing policies of Arab nations.

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Steve in Los Angeles:
Anti-American sentiment in the Middle East is as strong as it's ever been. Plain and simple, a majority of the people there don't like us. A leader voted in by the people, for the people in the Middle East is not something for us to look forward to.

Bradley in Oregon:
Democracy is alien to the Arab culture. They tend to end up with authoritarian regimes, generally under some kind of a dictator, or they end up with an Islamic theocracy.

Dave in Vancouver:
Millions of disfranchised Middle Easterners, googling, tweeting and facebooking will be underestimated at the peril of outside political influences. If these young twenty-first-century revolutionaries have the stuff to topple dictators of decades, in days and weeks, they have the stuff to fend off the likes of Bin Laden and Ahmadinejad as they transition to democracy.

Karen in Naples, Florida:
Unfortunately, Fundamentalist Islam will grow. It sure is messy over there.

David in Plant City, Florida:
Libya is going though a crucible of fire right now, which could easily give the extremist factions a great deal more traction. If we want these countries to fall on our side we are going to have to help them, otherwise we might lose them like we lost Iran (though we might get a second chance at Iran). Some might say we cannot afford to help those abroad with problems at home, but can we afford the cost of these countries becoming like Iran? I think we can afford that even less.

Ginger in Galax, Virginia:
There is great diversity in the Middle East. What happens in Egypt will be totally different than what happens in other countries. Some are ripe for extreme groups to influence and some will move steadily towards democracy. I would bet on Egypt to be a model. Whatever happens, there will be bloodshed.

Filed under: Middle East
soundoff (127 Responses)
  1. Pete in Georgia

    What's likely to fill it is dirt, the same as my power vacuum cleaner does every week at my house.

    February 23, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  2. Pisher from Harrisburg

    Tribalism is the root of a good bit of Middle Eastern tension and I do believe that we will see a return to tribe vying for control of the different countries either provincially or in terms of the country as a totality. It is quite possible we will see variation within countries co-existing and in other countries at war with one another. This is the ancient history of the region which most Americans don't remember or know. It is back to survival of the fittest. I doubt we will see any form of Western style constitutional pariliamentary democracy.

    February 23, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  3. James F.

    Some group of characters who can take directions from U.S. oil barons.

    February 23, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  4. Rick, Medina, OH


    It is unfortunate, but true, that these nations have no history or experience with democracy. Look at Iraq ... even after we force fed them with it, they are still struggling to make it work. The most likely outcome is that these countries will replace one autocracy with another. One can only hope that some democratic 'reforms' come with the change in regime, but that is not a bet that I'd take.

    Medina, OH

    February 23, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  5. Rick McDaniel

    Religious dictators.

    February 23, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  6. David of Alexandria VA

    Undoubtedly the military - they hold all the cards in the balance of power. What we'll have to wait out is how many of the custodial military juntas will do as Egypt's seems to want and hold elections, vs. those who will establish military dictatorships. The Muslim B rotherhoods of the region will make sure that uncertainty abounds long enough to get their own propoganda machine running - then the real trouble starts.

    February 23, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  7. Bradley, Portland, OR

    Democracy is alien to the Arab culture.

    They tend to end up with authoritarian regimes, generally under some kind of a dictator, or they end up with an Islamic theocracy.

    February 23, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  8. Russ in PA

    Hopefully a free society – and one that is free from foreign intervention. Bu I suppose we'll have the US continue to try to influence events in countries we have no business being involved in, and the people of those countries will be the poorer for it. Just as we are...

    February 23, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  9. FreedToChoose

    That's simple enough. Read revolutionary history–especially American, French and Russian–to see that Winston Churchill knew best when he said, "I never predict the future. I find I am much better convincing people that where we are today is exactly where I said we would be." (paraphrased)

    Las Cruces, NM

    February 23, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  10. Jane (Minnesota)

    This isn't a one size fits all answer. I hope that the peoples in that area have had their fill of religious extremism and can prevent any more theocracies like developed in Iran. It's a different culture than we have in the West – I hope we stay out of their business and let them figure it out with us sticking our military nose into it.

    February 23, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  11. Jerry Jacksonville, Fl.

    Well with Palin mouthing about President Obama not doing anything about the mess in Libya, I was wondering why she doesn't take her bear gun and journey over there, throw the worthless leader out of office and assume his duties as the dictator.

    February 23, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  12. cal

    Hard line muslim will take over the government of both large countries.

    February 23, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  13. John from Alabama

    Jack: The military will fill in the vacuum for about 6 months to a year, but elections will bring about political parties and coalitions between these parties. Business will get done, but if the military does not release the authority of the government back to the people there will be death and destruction in the Middle East. The young men and women in these countries want to compete and make the free enterprize system work for them.

    February 23, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  14. Joan G

    We watched Frontline last night and it is obvious the "fill" wll be the so called Muslim Brotherhood.....in other words strict Sharia Law. Poor Egyptians will end up with much worse than what they had.

    February 23, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  15. Bizz, Quarryville Pennsylvania

    I think in a more moderate gov't will take over. These people want freedom and work. They want to have some type of middle class that they can work towards. That is where these dictatorships go wrong and keep taking from the poor until there is no more to take. It could go the way of Lebanon, you never know. They don't want a gov't like America, because their religion doesn't approve.

    February 23, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  16. Harold in Anchorage,AK

    If there is no foreign interference:
    The will of the people living there!

    February 23, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  17. Jenna

    What is likely to fill the power vacuums being created in the Middle East?

    It will NOT be "our" brand of Democracy, nor will it be like the Theocracies of Iran or Israel.

    They will each develope their own brand of Democracy.

    We need to remember ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL.

    Roseville CA

    February 23, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  18. David Wise from Plant City Florida

    Well Jack, it really depends. Egypt looks like it could form a relatively secular government, but places like Libya is going though a crucible of fire right now, which could easily give the extremist factions a great deal more traction, if we want these countries to fall on our side we are going to have to help them, otherwise we might lose them like we lost Iran (though we might get a 2nd chance at Iran)
    Some might say we cannot afford to help those abroad with problems at home, but can we afford the cost of these countries becoming like Iran? I think we can afford that even less.

    February 23, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  19. Dave, Orlando, FL

    Given history and the alarming percentage of lunatics in that corner of the globe, I don’t even want to think about it.

    Hey is there any chance I can get a one way ticket on tomorrow’s Shuttle?

    February 23, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  20. Tom Bulger, Canandaigua

    Rachel Maddow predicted Mubarak's abdication, if you'd like the opinion of someone with a track record of prognostication.

    Fareed Zakaria might be handier.

    If you really want to ask me, I say Middle-Easterners, and long overdue.

    February 23, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
  21. Ed from California

    The Mint Tea Party? The "vacuums" will be filled with young well educated people who have a sense of community and of how the world really turns, unlike us. Where we have a sense of jealously, hatred and misinformation. Our nation is going to be next. You can only take so much until it breaks, and it's breaking now.

    February 23, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  22. Terry- Greensburg, IN "Hoosier Hillbilly"

    Each of those countries has they're own specific and distinct problems ( just like 'we' do ) they can't be grouped as a mass
    and discussed in a similar manner.

    It would be like comparing 'us' to Canada, Mexico, Britain, France or even China. It doesn't work that way that's why 'we' should keep our nose out of other countries governments. They got along without 'us' until the last 100 years or so, and I think it's best it stays that way!

    What do 'we' know anyhow, how long 'we' been a democracy(?): How long 'we' going to be one(?) if it only last a couple hundred years or so- what's the use!!

    February 23, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  23. Phyllis G Williams

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    What is likely to fill the power vacuums being created in the Middle East?

    Nothing, until they realize that God has created Man –
    (Colossians 1: 16 ; Psalm 33: 6; Isaiah 44: 24) that the Lord, He is God, it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves, we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture” (Psalm 100: 3),
    that they are God’s children? The World belongs to Christ and His Bride, the Church/all human beings who have accepted Him –
    (John 1: 12; 6: 37).
    "thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory" (Matthew 6: 13")
    "All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in Earth" " 28: 18)

    February 23, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  24. Wilhelm von Nord Bach

    unfortunately IF the history of the Middle East and Africa holds true, I think we will see, to paraphrase the line fro the old Who song "New Revolution", a "Meet the NEW Dictator, same as the OLD Dictator", Jack.

    that's what happened in both Egypt with Nasser and Libya with Kadafi decades ago when THEY overthrew their countries royalty. Democracy is a GREAT idea BUT it rarely works out in the third world. I just hope whatever comes is at least friendly to America and Europe.

    February 23, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  25. Steve, Clifton, VA


    The power vacuums being born/birthed in the middle east will be filled by Governments that operate on the most basic principles of democracy. Democracy in it's infancy. Further, those Governments will more collaborative with one another, as well as the west, and will form closer alliances with their nieghbors in the region in terms of their oil assets. I also suspect that their democracies in it's most elementary level will gradually diminish the ability of extremest groups , like Al Qaeda, to recruit.

    February 23, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  26. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Jack: It will be "power for sale-the iron hand in the velvet glove--and most of all "agony!"

    February 23, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  27. Loren, Chicago

    We can hope democracy and capitalism, but what's likely is Islam and more despotism.

    February 23, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  28. Conor in Chicago

    If the Neo Conservatives have their way it will be your sons and daughters, drafted in to the Global Capitalist Military, that will fill the void.

    February 23, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  29. Pat in Michigan

    The C.I.A. ?

    February 23, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  30. Adam Simi Valley, CA

    Say hello to the United States of Islam.

    February 23, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  31. Richard McKinney, Texas

    Jack as with any vacuum it does not discriminate when it comes to sucking. With the good dirt also comes the bad dirt. The hope is that you get the rug mostly clean. The reality is that it is still the same old rug no mater which way you rub the knap.

    February 23, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  32. Gary H. Boyd

    Whadaya wanna hear Jack - idealism or realism? Ideally, a spread of legitimate democracy. Realistically, military juntas since the military are the best organized and structured. Either way, the era of dictators is over.

    Gary in Scottsdale, Arizona

    February 23, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  33. Dennis north Carolina

    hopefully the peoplr will gain thir freedom.

    February 23, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  34. John LaBare

    OIL Jack and lots of it.

    Wantagh, NY

    February 23, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  35. Ali

    Egypt down and about, & the small internal protests happening in Iran in itself these two major players are out. Saudi is to busy fretting over Bahrain. It will be Turkey, With Erdogan at the helm, he has pulled Turkey out of poverty, bring human rights, stood up to U.S. during Iraq war & walked out on Israel at the Davos Economic Convention thus gaining popularity among the arabs.

    February 23, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  36. Michael - Dallas

    Allah will provide.

    February 23, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  37. Jason, Koloa HI

    Big Money capitalists parading under the guise of whatever illusion gets the support of the people, religion, democracy, freedom, whatever blah blah blah. But whatever government emerges will just be a puppet to the same type of scum that enslave us western peasants with the sole purpose of acquiring whatever resources....hmmm...I wonder what resource is abundant in the Middle East......they can control and make a massive profit from. While helping the actual citizens with that profit as little as they can possibly get away with without ending up like the previous dictatorships and monarchs. Kind of like Russia after the U.S.S.R. crumbled.

    February 23, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  38. karen meyer

    Unfortunately, Fundamentalist Islam will grow. It sure
    is messy over there. Karen in Naples, FL

    February 23, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  39. jim boucher

    Ja....ck,love your show.Why does every reporter feel they need a contract worth big money,but the working class heros of this country have to take it on the chin. i am union member ,i dont feel i should give up anything because some GOP yahoo cant balance his budget lets not forget it was theGOP that got us into this budget crisis anyway.now that President Obama has saved the american car co. the banking system the stock markets single handed.once again the GOP willl find away to screw things up again.before the A.MERICAN WORKERS VOTE THEM OUT.AGAIN. Jim Boucher Port Richey Fl

    February 23, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  40. Kim Smith

    Sadly, the people fighting and dying for freedom from oppression will no doubt wake up in the next few months and find that their former corrupt government has been replaced, with an even more corrupt government. Five thousand years of theocracies, dynasties, dictatorships and tribal bickering, has given them a hunger for democracy but not the willingness to shed their cultural identity in favor of a completely reborn society. The old traditions and customs that define them, that permeate their society, will ultimately be their undoing. The next strongman is silenting waiting in the wings and looking for that golden moment that all predators seek, when the highest bidder comes forward. To paraphrase an old saying, money talks and freedom walks.

    February 23, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  41. Michael Armstrong Sr. Tx.

    The war lords will swarm in like fire ants when the leaders are gone .

    February 23, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  42. Ralph Spyer

    The C.I.A.

    February 23, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  43. Scott Stodden

    I Believe We Are Seeing Change And History Like We've Never Seen Going On In The Middle East Right Now!

    Scott Stodden (Freeport,Illinois)

    February 23, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  44. thom richer

    More than likely it will be filled with new and improved dictators which the U.S. can continue supporting and financing their greed. Or other stooges of world corporations and military. One can only hope the people of these countries seize power and take charge of their own destinies once and for all and not beaten down again. Will this happen? Doubtful.

    Thom Richer
    Negaunee, MI

    February 23, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  45. Jeff In Minnesota

    It will be interesting to see how this all works itself out. All of the opinion pieces that I have read say that the odds on favorite is some form of democratic representation. However there is also the old saying that "power loves a vacuum," and that vacuum seeks a way to be filled and it unfortunately gets filled in not always the best way by the best people. I think Egypt has the best bet of ending up with a true democratic government. However, I am not so sure things will work out as well in Libya, Iran and Yemen.

    February 23, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  46. Paulette in Dallas,PA

    The final outcome of these uprisings remains to be seen.

    February 23, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  47. Anthony J. Frascino from Swedesboro, NJ

    I don't think these people will be as dumb as the Iranians who exchanged one dictator for another. With the rise of the Internet they will be constantly overseeing the the contrivances of their leaders and will not allow them to undermine their new found freedoms.
    Tyrants, despots and kings are shuddering in their palaces and no one is seeking to fill the vacuum. Freedom is insatiable today and spreading through the globe like a computer virus. America should be at the forefront. China, watch out!

    February 23, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  48. Ruth Rossi

    Kudos to the creative minds of Americans who recognize the importance of alternative energy for the United States and are attempting to create energy that does not make us so reliant on oil from the Middle East.
    Without new means of energy we are held hostage by the whims of dictators who would destroy the world economy to save their own need of power and greed.

    February 23, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  49. Dave, Vancouver

    Millions of disfranchised Middle Easteners, googling, tweeting and facebooking will be underestimated at the peril of outside political influences. If these young twenty-first-century revelutionaries have the stuff to topple dictators of decades, in days and weeks, they have the stuff to fend off the likes of Bin Ladena and Ahmadinejad as they transition to democracy.

    February 23, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  50. Remo, from beautiful downtown Pflugerville Texas

    Well Jack, everyone forgets that those countries have had people there from the beginning of time. I think they can figure it out without and upstart country, namely us, meddling anymore than we have. Maybe this is the spark that we needed to get AWAY from oil. Maybe this is the "mother of invention" that we as a country needed. Possible we could spend some of those forigen aide dollard here in our country to fix the problems we have in our own backyard.

    February 23, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  51. TonyInNYC

    Where's this trend taking hold next? Hopefully Iran.

    February 23, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  52. Gigi Oregon

    Even though they live in countries ruled/led by dictators they know more about freedom than anyone here in the United states. I hope Peace will be their cry and Democracy. And not Monarchs or Republics and know the difference.

    February 23, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  53. Gerald (Tampa, FL)

    The next move in the Middle East is full fledged democracy. Remember, the concept was introduced in Iraq and now see where it's going. One must hope it signals for better times ahead for us all.

    February 23, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  54. Dee in New Paris Ohio

    I agree that we really have no idea what will follow the regimes already being toppled.

    I hope the people who are in the forefront of the revolutions are interested in establishing democratic societie, AND in moving their countries into the present day and away from the medieaval governmental systems.

    However, I also hope that those countries take a lesson from our country and other countries that are NOT ruled by religious factions. Separation of Church and State is ESSENTIAL for a strong democracy.

    In reality, I am skeptical that this will happen.

    February 23, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  55. Mike Brooks

    More riots, threats of violence, elected Democrats fleeing the state to deny votes, "progressives" distributing photo's of governors with gun sighs over their faces..... Oh, you meant the OTHER Middle East......

    February 23, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  56. Bill

    Richmond, VA
    No one knows where this heading because these dictator run states are falling like dominoes. Also, it seems that all of the protesters are young males and do not share the views of the older generation.

    The real question to me is – how do they view the United States? and
    What kind of relationship do they want to have with us?

    February 23, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  57. David - Cleveland, OH

    We will see ever increasing Islamic influence in government throughout the Middle East at the detriment to the American people.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  58. Cary

    The claims of new democracies seems a little premature. So far the military is in charge of Egypt and their first actions were to suspend the constitution and disband their Congress. Sounds democratic to me. How often have military governments turned into transitional governments leading to democracy? Change is needed but I think the old rock and rock line of "new boss, same as the old boss" applies here.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  59. Peter Bonafonte, Tarrytown, N.Y.

    It will come down to who is best organized, has the most guns and enough followers willing to use them. Gadhafi has the guns but not enough followers willing to use them.

    My prediction.
    When the dust settles the middle-east will look completely different. Some countries will become and remain, we hope, shining examples of democracy. Some will start off with much promise but over time will devolve back into dictatorships. Some will collapse into chaos and be broken up then absorbed by their neighbors.
    Fundamentalist Islam will still be a factor but only to the same extent a beehive is when it's in your attic. A mildly dangerous but not crippling nuisance.

    Archive this and we can discuss it again in 10 years.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  60. ArtInChicago

    Jack, what's next in the Middle East? Walmart!!!!

    February 23, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  61. Ralph Sato

    Whichever way the Middle Eastern countries go whether to democratic governments or new dictatorships, the United States must this time support and encourage democratic systems and remain true to its own ideology. This is the position that President Barack Obama has taken and it is important that he not deviate from this position under pressure from strategic considerations.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  62. Emre

    True democracy requires not just free elections but a deep rooted culture of tolerance and freedom for all citizens. People in the middle east do not tolerate different ideas, opinions, or religions. With or without "democracy", the future for the middle east is bleak.



    February 23, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  63. steve kevlin,,,, puyallup wa.

    haven't we learned to stay out of other peoples business???

    MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.. does that ring a bell?

    February 23, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  64. db

    If the current wave of discord continues either the current rulers of each nation are in line to be toppled or they must help their citizens feel that they are better off with them in charge. That would include more schools, equality, rights, a constitution, political influence, the choice of leadership, and jobs to make a decent living. If these leaders in the middle east do not make changes, they will be overthrown in the current wave of changes. Communication and technology has progressed to far to isolate anyone and once a group gets started, provided it has justifiable reasons, it will swamp any current government or dictator.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
  65. William, Chattanooga TN

    America will assume much less of a role as the world's policeman while the United Nations is forced to step up and take the reins as the diplomatic solution for the middle east. All nations in the region will have to work together, in some fashion, to ensure democracy has a chance, otherwise chaos will rule the day for some time to come.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  66. D. Simpson

    First of all, these people absolutely need to have their voices heard. This is the root of freedom and democracy. Once they hear their own voices, it will give them the "ammunition" to fight for their own Human Rights. Hopefully, the taste and sound of freedom is ringing throughout all of their ears and they will take full advantage. If done correctly, this could actually repair a lot of the relationship between the the middle east and the Western world. The only thing we need now is for the people of China, N. Korea, (other similar countries) to catch wind of this so that they can speak out for themselves as well!

    Richmond, Virginia
    (Temporarily St. Kitts and Nevis)

    February 23, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  67. S Callahan

    If they world would wake up and just read the Bible..they would know what is next....

    February 23, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  68. W.N. Sanabria, Escondido, CA

    I find it interesting that the media keeps pushing the idea that Iran might be the benefactor of this turmoil, when it's clear that they have their hands full with their own revolt. Is it fair to assume they can exert so much influence over their neighbors when they can't even control their own side of their borders?

    February 23, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  69. Bruce, of Delaware

    The families that control the highest levels of the central banks; The Elite globalists!

    February 23, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  70. sammer muhammad

    Hello! Is everything always about the United States? I, for one, think that anything is better then a dictator. Do you not see how the West helps keep these murderers in power for their wealth? Can we not allow other countries to be free and have freedom? Or is everything in the world only about Americans? To my arab brethern, keep revolting and set up governments that we can be proud of. May God have mercy on all those who support freedom and not the interests of oil and money.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  71. Sharon in Chicago

    Easy question, Jack:
    Having read Naomi Klein's book called The Shock Doctrine, the void will rapidly be filled by BIG CORPORATIONS.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  72. Terry Coultas

    This whole event going on in Northern Africa and the Middle East has catastrophic potential. Being in politics at this juncture in history could break a diplomat. What ever decision you make could make or break your political career. Albeit you have hundreds of advisors you’re the one carrying the weight and you’re carrying it between a rock and a hard spot. If President Obama does something hurriedly in Libya and fails he’s wrong, if he waits he could have another Holocaust on his hands. Right or Wrong I’m glad I’m just a simple engineer.

    Saugus Ca.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  73. Jordan

    What's most likely to fill vacuums in the middle east? Sand.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  74. Haris Durmic

    Most of these dictators didn't provide Freedom of Religion (Not even for the Muslims,which are the majority) ... I see Democracy with a strong Islamic influence filling the vacuum!

    February 23, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  75. Ginger Correll Galax, virginia

    There is great diversity in the Middle East. What happens in Egypt will be totally different than what happens in other countries. Some are ripe for extreme groups to influence and some will move steadily towards democracy. I would bet on Egypt to be a model. Whatever happens, there will be bloodshed.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  76. Evan P

    Hopefully we'll see representative governments form. If there is anything the US should do, it is hammer the message that we are behind a people's movement towards a people's republic. Can you say air-drop Constitution 101 fliers?

    February 23, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  77. Micah Miller, Canton OH

    It doesn't matter Jack. They have their Universal right to democracy. The US will just have to negotiate with the new governments as we do with the other fledgling democracies in the world.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  78. Xoff


    It seems a little premature to speculate on who will move in to fill the vacuum. The revolutions are not even over yet and we are trying to guess who the winners will be. One thing that is certain is America does not have the money in our coffers to intervene even if it doesn't pan out the way we like it.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  79. steve from los angeles

    Anti-American sentiment in the Middle East is as strong as it's ever been. Plain and simple, a majority of the people there don't like us. A leader voted in by the people, for the people in the Middle East is not something for us to look forward to.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  80. Jack


    February 23, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  81. Haris Durmic

    Whoever fills the vacuum , weather it's an Islamic state , Democratic state or a Turkish type state. It will expose and oppose American terrorism, hypocrisy and global Imperialism.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  82. bob elliott

    Jack, hopefully democracy will prevail,, isnt it amazing how they all portray us (USA) as the evil society, but they now want to be like us, was it Jefferson who said once freedom is lost, its gone forever, they may now have a taste of freedom, we should help them continue!!!

    February 23, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  83. Harlan Hiltner

    I am not sure it is our concern. Personally I hope they go toward democracy and freedom but the choice is theirs to make not ours. It is interesting that we support democracy but when it backfires such as the Palestinians voting for Hamas we are not so sure about our support.

    Harlan HIltner
    Pahoa HI

    February 23, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  84. Michael

    The People

    February 23, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  85. sam toronto

    anyone who thinks the radicals wont take over all over the middle east is dreaming.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  86. Meredith

    I am sure that the military will fill the role left by fleeing dictators, but it is what comes next that frightens people. After all, the majority of those in Egypt don't remember a time without a ruler from the military, as each "president" had been from the military since the Free Officers Revolution of 1952. I am sure that most countries, if they go the democratic route, will follow the example of Turkey, keeping traditions but being democratic.

    Wilsonville, Oregon

    February 23, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  87. Edem

    This is just the the tip of iceberg. The next wave of pro=democation movement will engulf the rest of the continent. So the US needs to be pre-emptive and tell all the dictators on the continents to start packing.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  88. Sam Chhina

    It is anyone's guess. Long period of dictatorships and oppressive regimes have left the social and political structure bereft of any leaders on the ground. Islamists who traditionally have managed to hold on to some sort of organization through local mosques are warming their heels to jump in the fray once the things cool down.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  89. Ralph Nelson

    Mixed bag. Hopefully democracy aong lines of U.S. rather than British style (too many parties, fighting, mess like Iraq). But some are going to fail and new dictators arise. I sure would like the Iranians to be free.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  90. Refudiator

    It depends on what the kids grow up with. If we can get the kids hooked on SpongeBob and Hanna Montana, then all will be good, as odd as that seems.

    If they end up spending their time memorizing the Koran and watching al Jezera(sp?) in 100 degree heat, my guess is it will be bad...

    February 23, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  91. Joe from Florida

    Seriously, with socialism growing in America thanks to Obama, and the Unions, do we really need to pose this questions?

    Jack I hope your in shape enough to kneel three times a day, because sooner than you think the man you voted into office will not only welcome Islam crazies into controlling the Middle East, we will have to conform to Islam to survive for oil.

    Think not? How long do you think all those electric cars we have now will work when Saudi falls next week?

    February 23, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  92. Heidi H.

    Anti-American groups do use the argument that America hasn't always been good for their governments, and they're winning argument because it's sadly not always untrue. If we lend support for assuring they get truly democratic regimes they'll see a turn in American policy. Or we won't and I'm afraid they'll remember that, too.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  93. Barry G. Wick

    What's going to fill the power vacuum? Dust and sand. and it's really fine stuff made from the ground bones of a thousand generations before all those people over there who never knew freedom. Not much chance of freedom now or ever. It always evolves into the military....some strongman or warlord. Lots of those demonstrators want to get a constitution....I say, get a Dyson, Hoover, Rainbow or other brand of vacuum. It'll do more good to help Egyptian or Lybian homes if the man of the house is cleaning instead of fighting.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  94. Eric in Colorado

    America is the one of the largest users of Oil. We have backed the dictators and monarchies for years despite their actions agains ttheir own people. Just as we have allowed the super rich in the US like the Koch brothers to dictate policies against the unions in Wisconsin.

    We are paying for what we reaped.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  95. Phillip

    Euphoria, followed by earnest confused effort, followed by chaos, followed by either shaky democracies or new dictators that are either Islamist or the usual greed-power sickos. The US should learn from this and only support the democratic efforts, whether Islamic or secular.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  96. a aljumaili

    major change in that area will pull the rug from beneth islamist
    also have a real patners in middleeast byond israel maybe its reach the point for us to reconsider the costly friendship

    February 23, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  97. Damoon - Toronto


    Within next 10 years, that is going to pass very fast, the power vacuum is going to filled by the people of Middle East, great majority of them peaceful and hungry for enjoying the same freedom as we in the west do and take for granted. United States is taking the right stance in calling for non-violence against people of Middle East. Stay the course, this will pay dearly both in terms of economy and security.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  98. Albert Helman

    About the American interests in the Mid East, they will be better served by governments that actually represent and meet the needs of their people. Regimes that are democratic, respectful of human rights, and independent of US interference will help in issues everyday Americans care about. Terrorism is less an issue because the US would be less a supporter of authoritarian leaders and torture of peoples abroad. This vacuum can and hopefully will be filled by governments accountable to their own people, governments that bargain with the US and not take orders from the US.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  99. David B

    85% chance the vacuums will be filled with form the Muslim brotherhood. A recent poll prior to all these uprisings found 85% of the people believe in strong Muslim customs, traditions and laws. This is why the brotherhood is keeping out of sight as they plan their moves.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  100. Haris Durmic

    Democracy isn't just about FREE and FAIR elections , it's about the feeling of being free to do whatever you want. In most cases dictatorship's oppress religion and culture , while Democracy's allow freedom's of culture and religion. Islam+Democracy will fill the vacuum.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  101. Billy

    I suspect that at least some of the Arab countries in revolt will end up in the same Islamic abyss as Iran. Religion has a great influence over the Moslem population and the religious leaders are well organized. I would hope that more Americans can appreciate why our founding fathers set up a secular country; especially the right wing republicans who keep re-writing the history books.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  102. Jesse Cunningham

    Whats likely to fill the vacuum?

    A collection of clerics, dictators and hardliners.
    The more things change the more they stay the same.

    now more than ever Americans should be prepared to reexamine our relationship with Israel as our continued support will likely be an item of contention for the "New Arab order"

    February 23, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  103. Zeinab Khalil

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Countries in the Middle East struggling against dictatorship and repression will ultimately decide their own future, but we need to stop acting like the only option is either a psychopathic dictator or an Al-Qaeda leader. Egypt is already gearing up for free elections in September and the results of the first-ever transparent survey just revealed that about 50% of Egyptians believe Amr Moussa of the Arab League should be president, followed by Nobel laureate Ahmed Zewail. There are many individiuals in the Middle East who are capable of leading, and just like many other countries in the world who've built democracy out of scratch, they too will succeed in deciding their future.

    From Ann Arbor, Michigan!

    February 23, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  104. Ken, New Britain, CT

    Its about time the people in the middle east took things into their own hands instead of the United States doing all of the work.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  105. David Mason

    there will never be a democracy! There religion dictates what is next!Why would they want a democracy; look where it got us! Bankrupt and representatives who think baseball players on steriods is their priority or concern!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 23, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  106. D. Readler

    The void will be filled by whichever individual or group people feel will help them to better provide for themselves and their families. Basic human needs are universal, and people will support whomever most convincingly promises to help them fulfill those needs. Whether or not they intend to make good on those promises is a different story (the same as here in the U.S.)

    February 23, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  107. Freeway Fatcat

    Hey, if the people in northern Africa/Middle East are looking for a strong spokesperson that expouses extreme democracy and will add to the confusion without "fixing" anything, there is always Caribou Barbie.... I suspect we can even contibute airfair, if she really needs it.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  108. Sylvia, Baton Rouge

    While is it true that the future of these countries are uncertain, you can count on one thing: democracy will not happen over night. The people of countries like Libya are accustomed to the ideologies in place, and you can bet whoever comes into power will have those same ideologies that have been instilled into them for the past 4 decades. I want very badly to be optimistic about the future of these countries in revolution, however given the lack of acceptance to change and/or innovation, we should al start holding our breath

    February 23, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  109. Tom M.

    Moammar Gadhafi Should stop killing his people it is not right it is wrong.Gadhafi should hear his people words and step down. No more Blood shed.I will pray every day that peace will come to Libya people.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  110. Erica Aden

    The post-revolutionary governments in Middle East and North Africa would probably tend to be democracies modeled after Iran and Turkey. One thing for sure, they would not want the US presence, after all they consider that the source of evil and suppression of their human rights since WWI. Israel, which is spoiled child of US, will probably see an exodus of a significant chunk of its population re-repatriating to where they came from.


    February 23, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  111. Hope

    If they mix their religion with their politics they will fail as democracies and end up theocracies.Religion is always pushed to keep people afraid and repressed.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  112. Rocco Lionetti, North carolina

    Jack, There is no way to know who will end up ruleing after the mess is over. But they will have tons of product to sell, they need a market and we provide that. The problem with oil is that we are always in a panic.If we could organize and punish individule companys it would keep prices down. Like don't buy oil from Exxon for a month. Man they would be begging for buyers! The whole nation needs to be behind the movement, than you have power!

    February 23, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  113. Renee Peoria,Ill

    It's probably going to go half and half. There are plenty of anti-American Islamic groups who are likely to take advantage of this situation. But let's not forget that what started this was the fact that the internet and social media enables these people by letting them know how the rest of the world lives. They obviously want the kind of freedom we have. That's a powerful inducement; powerful enough to risk their lives fighting repressive regimes. If they don't get it, the revolutions are likely to continue.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  114. Ryan Jewkes

    Whether it be different groupings of autocratic states, or new bodies of democratic countries–the vaccuum must be filled by native efforts. The people of these revolutionary nations need to act on their own accord, while the rest of the world supports the choices of these people–regardless if they become governments we do not view most favourable.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  115. Geoff in Pa

    Jack, The void created by the fall of these dictators will be filled by extreme hatred for the US Government which is seen by the people as an evil that supported their oppression and did nothing to help the people. It will be fueled by the religious extremists that will quickly hand out money,food and fuel, as was done in Lebanon and Gaza. These items will be supplied by the likes of Iranian and Syriaian government. Hitler gave the people bread and Nationalism. I would expect nothing but the same from Iran and Syria. We should have had relief ships on the way to Eqypt even beore this revolution occurred.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  116. David

    "Moammar Gadhafi has ruled over Libya with a culture of fear since 1969. If he goes – and it looks like he will – what's next?"

    Really? I've been seeing articles posted that Gadhafi has launched a counter offensive and the country is now in a civil war. I don't believe "it looks like he will", I believe it looks like we'll sit back and wait until "we're sure he will" and then make bold statements about the peace process and where the country should go from here.

    Come on America (not calling out just the president), grow some balls and help these people who are being slaughtered! It's shameful how we sit back and allow this slaughter to take place, but continue to fight in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan, places that don't want democracy. Now, we see people who do, and we sit and watch them die. We're a country of fools!

    February 23, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  117. Bob

    It is possible that we are witnessing history repeating itself. Our
    Country struggled to establish the privelidges we have and enjoy today. My fear is that there are different ingredients filling the vacuum this time leading to an inevitable explosion...

    February 23, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
  118. Robert


    They say better the devil you know than the devil you don't know. The 9-11 hijackers came from... let's see... was it Iran? Saddam's Iraq? Syria? Somalia? Oh, that's right, our friends Saudi Arabia and Egypt! And Osama bin Laddin and Ayman al-Zawahiri? Iran? Somalia? Nope, Saudi Arabia and Egypt again. Those parcel bombs last October came from... was it Iran? Somalia? Nope, our friend Yemen! So the devil we know has given us 9-11, al-Qaeda, attempted bombings, etc.

    What it all means is that the saying "Better the devil you know than the devil you don't know" was a load of nonesense.

    Robert in San Diego

    February 23, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
  119. Johnm

    Jack; Its all about one thing Freedom. As the brave woman from Libyain put it on Brooke Baldwinj segment "WE WANT FREEDOM". Let freedom ring thoughtout the Arabic world. We i tne US have had freedom for so long its difficult for us to understand sometimes what these people are facing. I think if the our President cannot speak for fear of retailtation against American still in Libya. The voice of all AQ
    American's should be heard.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  120. Jeff in San Diego

    Well whatever the people of those nations decide, it would be wise for the US to stay out of their politics while the new systems are formed – even if it means watching us loose some investments. Case in point would be to look at our history in Iran. The people of Iran toppled the Shaw and put in place an elected (although more socialist) government. That government did what it should have done to do right by its people and nationalized Iran's oil fields, thus stripping US oil companies of hundreds of billions of dollars. The US response was to send the CIA into Iran to overthrow the new government and reinstate the Shaw who would return the oil fields to US companies. The Iranian people responded by throwing out the Shaw in the Islamic Revolution and we've been the bad guys in the Middle East ever since. If we don't want to repeat these mistakes, it is better to support and welcome whatever new governments are formed.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  121. Craig

    I am certain I undersatnd the frustration. I hope and pray that those who choose a new direction understand the obligations necessary to form a "real" government. The people of Egypt still have a long row to plow. The people of Libya are just learning to express frustration. I am constantantly reminded how important world history, U.S. history and geography were to me in 1968. They are more important now. Thanks Mr. Blanton.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  122. Seth Hill from Topanga, CA

    The media used to report what had happened. But now there isn't enough news to fill all the channels 24/7, so you have to report what will happen. Unfortunately, because of the nature of time, we don't know what will happen in the future.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  123. sally

    The Philippines did it 20 yrs. ago and the best thing was, it was bloodless. The Filipinos had enough for 20 yrs. with Marcos. 40 yrs. of Gadhafi is too long for the Lybians. Its about time for democracy. I wish the best of luck to the Lybians. Go for it!!!

    February 23, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  124. Bob

    The direction for them is not good! Gadhafi thinks Libya belongs to him and Boener thinks America belongs to the Republicans.......I see a pattern.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  125. Mr. Zippy

    You ain't seen nothing yet. Wait til the sectarian squabbling starts. The dictators we help set up and maintained - even Qadaffy Duck - knew how to rule with these people with the requisite iron fist.

    Next to be swarmed: Saudi Arabia and Israel.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  126. mike dean fall river,ma

    Political power vacuums lead to the possibility of conflict and war. The many years of US support for these authoritarian regimes will make it difficult but not impossible for the US to reach out to the populations that suffered so greatly under these despotic rulers.We need our President and Secretary of State to effectively communicate the ideals of democracy and freedom to the people of the Middle East and provide help in reorganizing their governments in such a fashion as to truly represent their people.The first step is to treat them like human beings and respect their human rights.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  127. Al

    If we think democracy will take hold we are in for a rude awakening.
    It could be a mess for a long time till all the factions weed themselves out through attrition.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:44 pm |