Hey kids, let's build a democracy! I've got some disgruntled people. You've got some friends who understand constitutional law, and my mom can make us costumes! You know, it's crazy enough that it just might work.
It's got to work better than hauling a bunch of American soldiers across the globe and having them enforce the flowering of democracy. It has been my experience that very little flowers at gunpoint, with the possible exception of dissent. That is what makes the events of the past few weeks in Egypt and Tunisia so amazing. The people took to the streets and demanded a change from the tyranny of business as usual. Oppressive regimes can be overthrown by the will of the people.
That's not to say that this enterprise is not without cost. Hundreds of people lost their lives in Tunisia before freedom began to ring. A similar body count in Egypt appears likely, though the fact that the military seems to sense a change in the direction of the wind, which may limit the bloodshed.
The irony shouldn't be wasted on us here in the land of the free and the home of the brave. As our troops begin to make their way out of the Middle East, countries will be forced to reckon with their own situations. It is the decline of our presence there that is making it possible for the people to take control of their own destinies. They will be able to forge a democracy that they will have earned and will not resent, at least immediately.
For every "bloodless coup" there are uprisings that fail horribly. The image of a lone protester facing down a row of tanks in Tiananmen Square is a standard for every peaceful revolution, but that gentleman waits in eternity for China to become a democratic republic. Who knows? Things change.