The sight of former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, his two sons, and other members of his regime in white prison fatigues, behind bars, in a cage in Cairo is the most significant event in the Arab Spring since his ouster six months ago.
Welcome to the 21st century, a time already characterized by the limits on American power. This is not an argument for isolationism. It is an argument for a realistic understanding of what we can and cannot do and should and should not do.
For America's sake, I hope that Al Jazeera penetrates the US media market. Unless Americans see the images and narratives that shape how others see us, the US will not be able to overcome its reputation as the world's half-blind bully.
The first wave of the Arab awakening, which led to the euphoric overthrow of autocracy in Tunisia and Egypt and then the uprising in Libya, is giving way to the next turn of events: the emergence of the counter-revolution led by Saudi Arabia.
It might be lucky for Obama that the Arab uprisings coincide with his second battle for the presidency -- if he makes good use of this opportunity. This requires blending aspirations and realities wisely, and with moral courage.
How do we not end up with a situation where the only regimes to change are those who were pro-American, because they were reluctant to use excessive brutality and were most subject to American influence?