One year ago, the US and Britain helped street protesters to overthrow president Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. Hailing the revolutionary tumult of the "Arab Spring" as the equivalent of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the West went on to help armed Libyan rebels remove president Muammar Gaddafi by military force.
This regional strategy was promoted even though it was obvious from the start that the people who were best organised to take advantage of any elections in the Arab world were Islamists of one stripe or another - religious extremists all, united by their hostility to the West.
And so it has proved. The Islamists are coming to power in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia, and in turn are being increasingly empowered elsewhere. In Libya, sickening atrocities, including the torture and killing of Gaddafi himself by a lynch mob, have been carried out by those brought to power with the assistance of British and US bombing raids.
Yet Western politicians are even now hymning the brave new dawn of democracy throughout the Muslim world. British Foreign Secretary William Hague conceded earlier this month that the regional violence and votes for Islamism were a "setback", but he insisted: "Greater freedom and democracy in the Middle East is an idea whose time has come."
And the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist organisation now in the ascendancy, which uses violence and political manipulation to advance its aim of world domination for Islam, is suddenly being hailed by Western leaders as the acme of moderation.
Yet in helping to get rid of Mubarak and Gaddafi, Britain and the US have managed the signal feat of ousting oppressive regimes that were at least helpful to the West, and replacing them with oppressive regimes that are acutely hostile to the West...What gives with this stupifying blindness? I think T.S. Eliot nailed it years ago when he observed that "Humankind cannot bear very much reality."