The fear factor has been broken, the genie is out of the bottle. Arabs have taken to the streets demanding freedom. As the winds of change blew across the Arab world, the US, the power that has long dominated the region, has been particularly absent.
With all its allies crumbling one after another, what will the US do to maintain its influence in the region? And what can be expected of Israel, the country's closest ally in the region?
Will the spread of democracy lead to a peaceful end to decades of autocratic rule in the Middle East or will the fear of Islamist extremism galvinise Washington's resolve to reinforce Pax Americana?
Our guests today are: Rashid Khalidi, a professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University; Seymour Hersh, a Pulitzer-winning author; and Thomas Pickering, the former US under secretary of state.
Our interviewees are: Clovis Maksoud, the director of the Center for the Global South; and Rob Malley, the Middle East director of International Crisis Group.
This special episode of Empire aired from Monday, February 7, 2011.