Mr Cole is said to be a Historian and he should know the history of the region. As example in Afghanistan when it was LEFT to its own devices by the West and the other Imperialist nations , progress was made to the point Fundamentalism was waning. As soon as Carter stuck his nose in there the Fundamentalists were strengthened.
In Egypt the British supported the Muslim Brotherhood as a check on nationalists like Nasser who promoted “Pan-arabism”. In Iran both the British and then the USA supported fundamentalists so as to check the power of nationalists like Mossadegh.
In other words there no rational reason to support these interventions . One can not use the excuse of unintended consequences as the historical record clearly shows the consequences that happen over and over again make matters worse.
Unintended consequences is like justifying joining the US Military when one one knows its track record of the past 60 years and knows it will be used to extend US Corporate interests. An informed person would not join the US Military and then make the excuse “well i did not know we would be used to take out Iraq”.
I can not give Mr Cole a pass here.
Now as to Hussein and Qaddaffi and the like being “Brutal dictators”. Yes by any measure that true but it still a selective use of the word so as to justify such actions. The “Brutal Dictators” that were Hussein and Qaddafi still had far less blood on their hands then any number of US Presidents. Applying the word Brutal to western leaders rarely done and there few if any pundits in the Western media that call for armed intervention in a Country like the USA because its President a brute.
This yet another form of Western Imperialism.