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.
It’s easy to be pessimistic about the Arab Spring, given the post-revolutionary turmoil the Middle East is now experiencing. But critics forget that it takes time for new democracies to transcend their authoritarian pasts. As the history of political development elsewhere shows, things get better.
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.