What can the Arab street be thinking? The answer seems to be evolving fast, much faster than the elite can keep up.
It is my sense that the Arabs now protesting bad governance, walking very politely in Jordan and risking their lives in Egypt, are primarily concerned with economic conditions. To this complaint, the masters can respond easily, and to some extent they already have. But the masters are responding arrogantly ("alright, we will condescend to give you a few more crumbs from our table, but you'd better shut up") and responding slowly.
As the protests jump from one country to another and as the masters waste time twiddling with food prices even while readily smashing protesters in the face, with al Jazeera and the Internet keeping everyone clued in, the idea of, ahem, "civil rights" seems to be slipping in. This is a much more dangerous idea for those who like subservience (not to mention those who like empire). If Tunisians can fire their dictator, if Egyptians can rout their interior ministry goons, if Jordanians can demand the right to elect their prime minister, then it is not exactly clear any more where things will stop.
Is it possible that someone soon will get the bright idea that intifada in Egypt could easily be linked to intifada in Palestine?
Might someone soon get the idea that if you can fire a dictator, then you ought to be able to have not just a new face but actually set up a democracy?
Might the idea arise that armies are to protect the people rather than protect the oppressors?
Back in complacent, comfortable America, where its renown civil liberties have come under such attack by a government beholden to the rich, is anyone getting the idea that these brave protesters might just possibly be fighting our fight?