CHANGING THE REGIONAL NARRATIVE…. Adam Serwer had a good item the other day, raising a point I haven’t seen emphasized elsewhere: al Qaeda can’t be at all pleased about developments in Egypt.

When DNI James Clapper said that Egypt was an opportunity to “change the narrative,” he was referring specifically to the idea at the center of the jihad declared by Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, that the only way to topple the oppressive dictators of the Muslim world was through violence and terrorism. Egyptians proved the extremists wrong today, and while it’s only the first battle in a longer war for democracy, there can be no question that the world knows again the power of strategic nonviolence as a tool for freedom.

In its decades of murder, terrorism and violence against the West and against Muslims, al-Qaeda and their allies have achieved nothing even distantly resembling the triumph the Egyptian people have secured in the past few weeks, and the Tunisian people before them. Because of what happened today, they are closer to the brink of annihilation than ever before.

Good point. Indeed, as extraordinary as the 18 days of Egyptian protests were, they’re all the more astonishing given how peaceful they were. Even after being provoked by pro-Mubarak forces, the demonstrations were non-violent and the number of casualties was very low.

The people of Egypt, in other words, did what Osama bin Laden said couldn’t be done.

Adam flagged this portion of President Obama’s remarks, which drove the point home nicely: “This is the power of human dignity, and it can never be denied. Egyptians have inspired us, and they’ve done so by putting the lie to the idea that justice is best gained through violence. For in Egypt, it was the moral force of nonviolence — not terrorism, not mindless killing — but nonviolence, moral force that bent the arc of history toward justice once more. And while the sights and sounds that we heard were entirely Egyptian, we can’t help but hear the echoes of history — echoes from Germans tearing down a wall, Indonesian students taking to the streets, Gandhi leading his people down the path of justice. As Martin Luther King said in celebrating the birth of a new nation in Ghana while trying to perfect his own, ‘There is something in the soul that cries out for freedom.’ Those were the cries that came from Tahrir Square, and the entire world has taken note.”

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.