The revolution unfolding before our eyes is an Arab liberation struggle. Following half a century during which the Arab world has been governed by dictators, the rule of tyranny is cracking at the seams. The Arab masses are no longer willing to suffer. The Arab elites are no longer willing to keep mum.
The fear has disappeared; the obedience has faded. A combination of processes that percolated under the surface for a decade has suddenly exploded in a freedom intifada.
Globalization, telecommunications, Al Jazeera and Iraq created a critical mass that could not be stopped. The Bastille fell in Tunisia; Cairo's Bastille is falling in its wake; and the end of other Arab Bastilles beckons.
Events in Egypt bear a resemblance to the Palestinian intifada of 1987, and yet the collapse also resembles the end of communist rule in Eastern Europe in 1989. Nobody knows where the process of liberation will end up. Nobody knows whether democracy, theocracy or dictatorship of another stamp will result from this. And yet the sort of regime that has gripped the Middle East for 60 years is coming to an end.
Just as the officers' revolts in the 1950s toppled Arab monarchies that were founded on colonial superpowers, the mass revolts of 2011 are toppling Arab dictators who rely on U.S. support. The Arab giant wants its freedom.
The second revolution that is occurring in front of our eyes is the collapse of the American empire. It could be that the American empire was evil.
But for 60 years the American empire kept the world stable, and provided relative quiet, peace and prosperity. The current U.S. president, Barack Obama, is undermining the American empire.
Obama's betrayal of Hosni Mubarak is not just the betrayal of a moderate Egyptian president who remained loyal to the United States, promoted stability and encouraged moderation. Obama's betrayal of Mubarak symbolizes the betrayal of every strategic ally in the Third World. Throughout Asia, Africa and South America, leaders are now looking at what is going on between Washington and Cairo.
Everyone grasps the message: America's word is worthless; an alliance with America is unreliable; American has lost it. A result of this understanding will be a turn toward China, Russia and regional powers such as Iran, Turkey and Brazil.
The second result of this insight will be a series of international conflagrations that will result from the loss of America's deterrent power. But the general result will be America's rapid disappearance as a superpower.
The policy setback which Washington will experience will be no less dramatic than the regime debacle which Cairo is experiencing. Barack Obama is, indeed, poised to make history. Should he not change direction, he will be remembered as the U.S. president who undid the American empire with his own hands.