There is a political science literature whose research indicates that economic development fosters democratic government, as opposed to dictatorships and autocracies. This is not to say that democracies are an end to be sought, because they in turn stifle economic development. But it is to say that the U.S. and NATO policy of tearing down dictatorships does not achieve the oft-advertised aim of producing democracies. This is especially true when the means is a devastating war that destroys physical, cultural, social and human capital. Recent evidence for this includes countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. If Assad falls in Syria, democracy will not break out there either. Sanctions on Iran that impede economic development also impede and threaten democracy in Iran. One influential article suggests that external threats in general, and this includes economic sanctions, act to move a nation toward autocracy and away from democracy.
The U.S. government turns a blind eye to research like this and even to its own experience. Its objectives are not the production of democracies. The government is not uniform. The State Department is set in its ways and doesn’t heed research, while the Pentagon does much more research. It’s State that runs foreign policy and doesn’t want even the White House interfering. The State Department supports autocratic governments. This is not news. It has been the case for a very long time, because this is the culture of that organization.