Happily Irreversible

National Review editor Rich Lowry wonders which direction the greater left will fall: acceptance and abnegation or denial, superstition and mania. Comedian Jon Stewart has been reluctantly considering a mea culpa, though still in his own language. And his choice of colleagues probably won't help him to redemption:

The Democratic foreign-policy expert who was Stewart's guest that night, Nancy Soderberg, tried to comfort him, pointing out that the budding democratic revolution in the Middle East still might fail: "There's always hope that this might not work."

There is historical precedent for that, of course. Liberal revolutions failed in Europe in 1848 and Eastern Europe in 1968.

In those last two sentences Rich is being fair to opponents and fortune. But consider that the historical precedent he strikes up is obsolete. Where was the medium serving as an internet in 1968, or 1956; let alone 1848? Where were the round-the-clock, worldwide news broadcasters? Even Tiananmen Square is from a spent epoch. The greatest threat from modern authoritarianism is rooted in a strongman's ability to subvert free nations' latest technology to his own destructive practices — from instant communication to airplanes to atomic bombs. But after two demonstrations of checking the authoritarian use of force with democratic military power, our greatest weapon, free expression, can finally be brought to bear: today's revolutions go live, the entire world a witness to every single one. Rule by strength relies on deprivation, and a dictator will never defeat what he can't hide.

EVERY PROTEST HAS ITS AUDIENCE: Robert Mayer, covering reports of protests across the globe, includes two pictures of a women's suffrage demonstration in Kuwait. Picket signs were in English as well as Arabic, and though English is widely used in the country's print, it's worth considering Kuwaitis know exactly whom among those watching will help.

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