Protest is sweeping through the Arab world. One corrupt and repressive regime, in Tunisia, has already been toppled, and now Hosni Mubarak Washington's man in Egypt, has been forced to deploy the army in an attempt to quell violent protests that have set the ruling party headquarters ablaze. Egypt, which is home to half of the world's Arabs, is the fulcrum on which the Arab world turns. What happens now in Egypt is bound to resonate throughout the Middle East and beyond.
Are we about to see something similar to the heady days of 1989, when Eastern Europe cast off Moscow's yoke? Is the Middle East going to turn out to be Washington's Eastern Europe? Will Wikileaks turn out to be Washington's equivalent of Gorbachev's Glasnost, cutting right through all the empty rhetoric about freedom and democracy, and showing the imperial regime to be repressive, craven, corrupt, foolish, weak and, ultimately, self-defeating?
American leaders appear to be following the Soviet playbook for the imperial end-game quite faithfully: cringing behind high walls and locked doors, looting the treasury like there's no tomorrow, and, of course, lying their heads off. There are a few moments each century when status quo suddenly becomes status quo ante. We may be living through just such a moment now.