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The Arab Spring, 18 Months Later

More than a year fter their moment of glory, young protesters in Egypt and Tunisia are chain-smoking in cafes, wondering what went wrong.

arab.jpgYoung Moroccans protest the sweeping wins of an Islamist party in a November 2011 election. (Reuters)

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Last February, they were braving bullets and sending tweets around the world. Today, says CNN's Hala Gorani, "those secular, hipster youngsters" have been totally shut out of the political process. On her most recent visit to Egypt, she says, "they were so  depressed, chain smoking in cafes. They don't know what to do anymore."

Gorani's observation launches a spirited debate in this video session from the Aspen Ideas Festival. Former diplomat Nicholas Burns responds that there are revolutionaries with a hand in the political process, and Congresswoman Jane Harman insists that Americans should help them learn how to govern.

Meanwhile, Foreign Policy's David Rothkopf is skeptical about whether Americans truly want to help those disenfranchised revolutionaries. For years, he points out, the U.S. government has done everything in its power to stabilize the Middle East, even when that's meant aligning with dictators. If there's going to be continued progress and upheaval in Egypt and Tunisia, he argues, "the people who've got to make this happen are the people of the region."

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