With regards to North Africa, western democracy assistance proved to be a minor player in the recent breakthroughs. Although democracy assistance organizations were active in Egypt and elsewhere in the months and years leading up to the Arab Spring, support for these organizations was outweighed by such a substantial degree by western support for the authoritarian regimes, that the west, and the U.S. in particular, has been broadly viewed in the region, probably accurately, as being responsible for keeping the old regime in place for so long rather than for helping accelerate its downfall.
The Cold War was the organizing principle of American foreign policy, and had a strong influence on domestic policy as well, for almost half a century. Today, less than two decades after its end, the Cold War is poorly remembered. The equivalence which some have suggested between the threat of Jihadist terror and that represented by the USSR, and the almost ubiquitous comparisons between Saddam Hussein and Stalin from those trying to drum up support for the Iraq war are just some examples of this. These comparisons are not so much wildly inaccurate, Jihadist terror represents a real threat to the U.S., and Hussein was much worse than your garden variety dictator, but they betray an intellectual laziness and failure to understand the true nature, and, for quite a long time, power of the Soviet regime.