It is hard to believe today, but just four years ago, the Arab world seemed on the brink of dramatic change. During the so-called Arab Spring of early 2005, Iraqis went to the polls for the first time since the demise of Saddam Hussein, Syria withdrew from Lebanon after one million protesters descended on central Beirut, and Saudi Arabia staged municipal elections. In Cairo, activists from across the political spectrum, having grown more confident and savvy, forced the regime of President Hosni Mubarak to cast itself as reform-minded, which loosened the reins on the opposition. The editorial pages of Western newspapers were asking triumphantly if the Middle East had finally arrived at that mythic tipping point.
Within the Bush administration, however, there was detectable unease, particularly when it came to the developments in Egypt. U.S. officials were worrying about how to react, not because they questioned President George W. Bush's "