Terrible rulers, sullen populations, a terrorist fringe -- the Arabs' exceptionalism was becoming not just a human disaster but a moral one. Then, a frustrated Tunisian fruit vendor summoned his fellows to a new history, and millions heeded his call. The third Arab awakening came in the nick of time, and it may still usher in freedom.
The Arab uprisings of 2011, once a great source of hope for democracy enthusiasts, have given way to sectarian clashes and political instability. The Middle East has not yet shed its authoritarian yoke, and the United States needs a policy that reflects that reality.
Mubarak's ouster was the natural outgrowth of his regime's corruption and economic exclusion, the alienation of Egypt's youth, and divisions among the country's elites. How those elites and the young protesters realign themselves now will determine whether post-Mubarak Egypt emerges as a true democracy.