"This will not stand!" declared George H.W. Bush.
He was speaking of Saddam Hussein's invasion, occupation and annexation of the emirate of Kuwait as his "19th province."
Seven months later, the Iraqi army was fleeing up the "Highway of Death" back into a country devastated by five weeks of U.S. bombing.
When Bush spoke, the world sat up and listened.
Consider the change.
"It's time for Gadhafi to go," said President Barack Obama two weeks ago. "So, let me just be very unambiguous about this. Col. Gadhafi needs to step down from power and leave." And did he go?
Receiving Obama's ultimatum, Gadhafi rallied his troops and took the offensive. His army is now 100 miles from Benghazi.
Obama urged the king of Bahrain not to crush the peaceful protest in Pearl Square and to accommodate the legitimate demands of its Shiite majority.
The Saudis, seeing a threat to their oil-rich and Shiite-populated eastern province should the Bahraini monarchy fall, sent 2,000 troops across the King Fahd Causeway. Bahrain then brutally swept the "outlaws" from the streets of its capital, Manama.
Among the few things that may be said with certainty about the Arab revolution of 2011 is that it has revealed the rising irrelevance of President Obama in that part of the world.
With impunity, Benjamin Netanyahu defied his demand that Israel cease to build on the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority, despite Obama's pleas, then went ahead with a U.N. resolution condemning Israel.
Caught flat-footed by the uprising in Tunisia, the White House could only offer belated congratulations to the demonstrators who had deposed and driven out our longtime ally, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
After Tunisia, Vice President Joe Biden insisted the embattled Hosni Mubarak was not a dictator in Egypt. Obama sided with Mubarak and then said he ought to go. Then, when the Saudis and Israelis protested that we were abandoning a friend of 30 years, Obama concluded Mubarak should stay.
When the army suddenly sent Mubarak packing, the White House hailed the revolution as the harbinger of an Arab spring.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton burbled that her 15-minute stroll through Tahrir Square was "a great reminder of the power of the human spirit and universal desire for freedom and human rights and democracy."
Some of the young demonstrators, recalling America's 30-year friendship with Mubarak and ambivalence over his ouster, refused to talk with her.
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