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Did a Saudi Ex Machina Save Egypt?

There are still democracy activists on Tahrir Square wondering where their revolution went, calling for a million-man march against the military's "coup." But the punditeska that hailed the Arab Spring as the best thing since the American founding is thunderously silent. Where is the snow job of yesteryear? The punditeska's infatuation with the Arab Spring ran across the whole political spectrum, from Tom Friedman at the New York Times to Bill Kristol at the Weekly Standard. When it came to the crunch, the "tech-savvy activists" of Tahrir Square turned out to be "benzine bubbles floating atop the viscous Nile mud," as I called them in February 2011. Both the Facebook revolution and the Facebook IPO since have gone pear-shaped, and what is left is the mud of Egyptian society: the military against the Muslim Brotherhood.

The collective sigh of relief is audible. The prospect of a Muslim Brotherhood regime controlling Egypt's parliament as well as the presidency was too horrible to contemplate, especially in light of the unending horror in Syria. Democracy is betrayed by collusion of Egypt's old regime and one of the world's nastiest regimes, but the punditeska is too pleased to protest. Not even Tom Friedman wants the Muslim Brothers to get control of the Egyptian state. For the moment, Egyptians have Saudi Arabia to thank for their penny-a-loaf pita ration, and the hand the military had to kiss in order to get it. And that is immeasurably better than the alternative.