Monday, January 17, 2011

The Tunisian revolt as "inspiration"

Hours after riots forced Tunisian President Zine el Abidine ben Ali to flee his country, hundreds of Egyptians poured into the streets of Cairo with a warning to their own authoritarian president, Hosni Mubarak.

"Ben Ali, tell Mubarak a plane is waiting for him too!" they chanted late Friday night. "We are next. Listen to the Tunisians; it's your turn, Egyptians!"

The slogans were a burst of envy and elation in a country where people have protested for years but have never ignited a mass movement to threaten Mubarak's nearly 30-year-old police state. Dissidents were finally daring to contemplate the possibility that public anger really could explode and bring dramatic change.

But the euphoria was mixed with sobering concern that the popular revolt in Tunisia, which, for the first time in modern Arab history, toppled a dictator, cannot be easily replicated. Across the region, bickering opposition parties and religious differences between Islamists and moderates have fueled mistrust and allowed repressive governments to splinter dissent.,0,6836461.story

Let us hope that no one in our government or the western media is stupid enough to believe that this revolutionary "dramatic change" in the Muslim world will produce the Middle East's own Thomas Jefferson.

Up until now, such "dramatic change" has always and has only produced America-hating Khomeinis and Gaddafis.

Notwithstanding our naive wishful thinking, each change has tended to be for the worse.

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