Revolt Spreads Against Politics Of Despair


A revolt against the politics of despair is sweeping across the Arab and Muslim world -- signs of which are on full display from Afghanistan and Iran to Palestine and most spectacularly in Tunisia.

The protests against Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the Tunisian dictator and a chief ally of the United States in the Arab world, had received relatively little notice in this country until they ended dramatically with his ignominious departure.

One can only imagine that if it had been Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Ali Khamenei leaving the Islamic Republic with an overnight flight to a neighboring country, how jubilantly it would be greeted with banners in major U.S. media.

But in ""the post-American world,"" as Fareed Zakaria has described the current condition of our globe, it no longer makes any difference if Americans pay much attention to seismic changes around them.

But those living in the immediate vicinity of Tunisia in the Arab and Muslim world have far more reason to follow closely every sign of revolt against tyranny.

Within seconds of the departure of Ben Ali from Tunis, Iranian bloggers and Facebook aficionados were making a pun on the name of the country (""Tunis"" in colloquial Persian means ""they could""). They wonder why the Tunisians could so swiftly topple the tyranny that rules over them while the Iranians could not.

Different countries have different levels of social momentum, even with similar circumstances.

While a series of mass demonstrations against Iran's fraudulent presidential election and for civil liberties has been brutally suppressed, the Green Movement is more widespread and rooted more deeply than ever in the Islamic Republic. Three grassroots movements -- labor, women and students -- continue their struggles despite violent suppression.

If the Iranian uprising of the summer of 2009 was an inspiration for the Tunisian uprising of the winter of 2