WASHINGTON — Osama bin Laden lived long enough to see a widespread revolt among Arabs who want nothing to do with his murderous philosophy or his twisted, despotic version of Islam. He knew that his vision for a 7th century caliphate was already dead.
No one knows how the uprisings that started in Tunisia and set off pro-democracy protests across the Arab world will end. The oppressive Syrian government has cracked down brutally; Libya seems bogged down in stalemate, unable to rid itself of the tyrant Ghaddifi. There is more hope for democratic institutions to break through in a country such as Egypt, with a long tradition of a functioning civil society.
Whatever the eventual outcome, though, none of those home-grown uprisings owe allegiance to bin Laden or al-Qaida. There are certainly conservative Islamists among the protestors; it would be naïve to think they wouldn’t be represented.
But they have been just one faction among many. The so-called Arab spring has been