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Did Hillary Clinton Help Bring Down Tunisia's Ben Ali?

11:00 AM, Jan 16, 2011 • By LEE SMITH
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Everyone around the region is watching—not least of all 83-year-old Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled for almost thirty years and shows no signs yet of letting up, despite his poor health. Even if Mubarak’s 80 million subjects are still loath to go to the streets themselves, Washington can point to last week’s events in Tunis as a lesson in what happens to despots who have overstayed their welcome—if they’re lucky they get to walk away under their own power.

Still, we shouldn’t expect any sort of immediate domino effect around the region—and we don’t even know what happens next in Tunisia. Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi is running the show while he consults with Arab allies, France, and Washington. We know there are thousands of brave Tunisians who’ve won something special, and would constitute the core of a future democratic government. But as we’ve seen over the last five years, liberal democracy is not necessarily what follows once the despots have been driven out.

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