We, Us, Our: The group of people who control U.S. foreign policy. This may be "the ruling class", "the American people", "well-funded political lobbies", "the voting public", "political pundits", "the mass media", or whatever, depending on who you believe.
To extend "our" sphere of influence into as many places as possible, using whatever means necessary, including the propping up of dictators that listen to "our" goals.
Any nation that allows "us" to put military bases there is considered a friendly nation, because it aids in the spread of "our" sphere of influence.
Execution in Friendly Nations
As long as the heads of the "friendly" nations listen to "us", it doesn't really matter what they do to their own people. Abuses will be downplayed in the media, if reported on at all. It only becomes a problem when they get so abusive that they risk toppling themselves, and thus risk "our" influence in the area.
This was what happened in Egypt. The previous regime managed to get themselves toppled, and now "we" have to do damage control in order to reign in the country again with the help of the current generals in power, regardless of what any democratic movements want.
Execution in Unfriendly Nations
For nations in which the heads do not listen to "us", every negative thing that happens gets extensive press coverage, while all else is ignored. The purpose is the incite "our" public to support military action against them, until either their government / military heads fall in line with the rest of the dictators that obey "us" or they are replaced by puppets.
We may supposedly be fighting for freedom or women's rights in those nations, but as soon as their "rogue" dictator is replaced by a puppet, then any future abuses get downplayed.
There was non-manufactured discontent in Libya of course, just as there is in any country. The primary difference between Libya and Egypt was that Libya was "our" official enemy while Egypt was not. The result is that pretty much the entire revolution in Libya was carried out by giving vast sums of cash and weapons to whatever gangs and warlords trying to take the place of the previous regime.
The end result was similar to the end result in Afghanistan. Same strategy, same abuses, different rulers.
Similar plans are being carried out for Syria.
Popular movements like the Arab Spring are valuable because they can be used as a cover to carry out operations that "we" would not normally be able to carry out without international outcry. By timing the overthrow of the Libyan and Syrian governments with the rest of the Arab democratic movements, "we" can make it appear that these new regimes are part of these democratic movements, rather than puppets that will be propped up by "us" for years to come.
Similar to Colombia, "we" will then be able to use these new states as a kicking-off point for any operations "we" need to carry out, to ensure that any of the truly democratic nations either remain under "our" sphere of influence, or are replaced by puppets as well.