Aftershocks of the Saddam Earthquake

We are only beginning to see the ripple effect from the capture of Saddam. This opens up so many possibilities, some of which may take years to develop.

In the near term we may see several things, including: Allies coming to agreement on forgiving debt (because Saddam's capture gives everyone a gracious out of the current impasse); and warring parties in Israel and the Palestinian territories coming to terms.

But I also wonder if Saddam's capture will kick off a chain reaction inside Al Qaeda. Will Usama bin Laden see the humiliation of Saddam as a provocation for himself? Remember that in some of his released tapes he exhorts his followers to fight in Iraq.

While we're talking about the Arab world, have you noticed that not one single Arab leader has gone on TV to declare that Saddam in prison is a good thing? They are curiously silent. An Egyptian man told me today it's because they're scared  -- scared that the tectonic plates of the Middle East are shifting in a way that will spell the end to their autocratic regimes.

These are remarkable times indeed. As a wonkish student of history, I think we are watching history in the making.