There is something undeniably satisfying, and something very worrisome, about the photo of Hosni Mubarak, the recently deposed Egyptian dictator, in a prisoner's cage in a Cairo courtroom. This is a man who has kept his entire country in a cage of corruption, medieval justice and oppression for many years.
But, the troubling thing is that this image will not be lost on Qaddafi or Assad or any of the other remaining tyrants in the Mideast. It is an invitation to dig in and hold on, at all costs. On the other hand, those surrounding these evil men may take note of the image, too, and conclude that if the evil of the regime is personalized, they can escape with their skins if they bolt now.
There is no undoing the damage that Mubarak did. But, in such cases, it might be better to erect a truth and reconciliation commission, of the type that brought peace to South Africa. There are times when the demands of justice need to be set aside, times when the pursuit of justice keeps a society from moving forward. I am not prepared to say that this is such a time in Egypt. I hope that the regime maintains stability through this trial. It is always a shame when justice is not delivered, but sometimes that is a necessary shame.