In 1848 the quiet of mid-nineteenth century Europe was shattered in a wave of revolutions throughout the continent. Beginning in France in February, a wave of revolutions began that would ultimately engulf 50 states in Europe and Latin America. Some succeeded and some failed, but at the end Europe and the world was a very different place. People who lived through this stunning year wrote with disbelief as well established governments were suddenly toppled by popular uprisings. History often proceeds at a fairly stately pace, and change can be imperceptible. At other times History moves with a lightning pace and dramatic changes occur almost literally over night. In 1989 we saw a similar year of revolutions in Eastern Europe where the Communist regimes vanished like chaff before a driving wind. The Arab world is experiencing a similar year of revolution this year, and the year is but little more than a third gone as of this writing.
Thus far governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen have been toppled. Libya is in the grip of civil war. The Syrian government is making war against its own people as a popular uprising continues. Major protests have occurred in Algeria, Bahrain, Iran, Jordan, Morocco and Oman and minor protests, so far, in Djibouti, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauretania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Western Sahara. In the age of the internet, blogs, facebook, twitter and ubiquitous cell phones, it is simply no longer possible for most autocratic regimes to keep their peoples ignorant of developments around the globe, and with each government that falls the movement grows throughout the Arab world to replace highly unpopular dictatorial regimes.