Now we may be witnessing the end of the “war on terror” as well. The rise of democratically elected Arab regimes that are less beholden to the United States represents Osama bin Laden’s and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s worst nightmare. The only source of their appeal was their opposition to American foreign policy at a time when other Middle Eastern leaders looked like corrupt flunkies for the U.S. and Israel.
America will still face huge challenges in the Middle East, mostly because Arabs and Muslims no longer stand in awe of our power. But they won’t be the challenges of discredited, destitute tyrants. They’ll be the challenge of politically accountable, economically modernizing regimes that throw in their lot with China, India, Russia, or Brazil, and question America’s right to patrol the Middle East and cheaply consume the oil under its soil.