Libyans will determine whether Moammar Gadhafi’s reported death today ultimately marks a new, more hopeful beginning for their nation, or simply another milepost on the brutal road they’ve been traveling for four decades. Gadhafi’s demise is undoubtedly a gain for them and for the world. But will it be augmented by strides toward democracy and peace, or negated by the rise of a new strong man in his place?
Revolutions keep their own time, whether aided by outsiders or not. Iraq’s future is brighter today than before the American overthrow of Saddam, but there were many, many dark moments along the way. Just next door, and two and a half decades earlier, Iranians’ U.S.-aided rebellion against the shah led to a militant theocracy that puts them in increasing peril. In Egypt, many of us who were encouraged by the uprising in Tahrir Square this spring have been discouraged by events since then. Heck, even the greatest, most enlightened collection of founding fathers the world has