Freedom Flourishing - Bush Finally Gets Credit
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President Bush said some things in his January 20 inaugural address that sent the liberal media into yet another conniption.  In his speech, Bush emphasized that the administration’s policy in his second term would be to spread freedom around the world.  The media, of course, seized upon his words and criticized the president roundly for his supposed intentions to bring freedom and democracy to dictatorships around the globe.  Bush was once again labeled a “cowboy.”

Yet was there anything really new in what Bush said on January 20?  I think not.  I think his comments about spreading freedom around the world were nothing more than an extension of the so-called “Bush Doctrine” that emerged shortly after the terror attacks of 9/11.  The Bush Doctrine basically was that we will fight the terrorists around the world; we will seek to bring down those governments that harbor and/or finance terrorists; and that you are either with us or against us in the War On Terror.

But whether you think Bush’s inaugural comments on spreading freedom were a new vision, or just an extension of the Bush Doctrine on terrorism, freedom is breaking out in many parts of the world – in different shapes and forms, of course, and on very shaky ground in some cases.  Even some in the liberal media are finally having to accept that the rise in freedom around the world is a good thing and (gasp!) that President Bush deserves some, if not most, of the credit for it. 

This week, we will list the events that have unfolded in various countries since we began the War On Terror.  That list includes several historic events that have taken place just since Bush’s inaugural speech on January 20. 

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What Bush Said At The Inaugural

Most of us were at work on January 20 when President Bush made his inaugural address, and we didn’t hear what the media called his “freedom speech.”   Here are some excerpts from the speech:

“At this second gathering, our duties are defined not by the words I use but by the history we have seen together. For a half a century, America defended our own freedom by standing watch on distant borders. After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical. And then there came a day of fire.
We have seen our vulnerability, and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny -- prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder, violence will gather and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.
We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.
America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights and dignity and matchless value because they bear the image of the maker of heaven and earth. Across the generations, we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave.
Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation’s security, and the calling of our time. So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.
America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal, instead, is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom and make their own way… Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities. And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own.
We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right.
America's belief in human dignity will guide our policies. Yet rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators. They are secured by free dissent and the participation of the governed. In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty.
Eventually the call of freedom comes to every mind and every soul. We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery. Liberty will come to those who love it.
Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world. All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know the United States will not ignore your oppression or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.”

Again, I ask, was this really anything new, as the media proclaimed?  Or was this merely an extension of the Bush Doctrine to fight terrorism and protect the United States?  Was this a so-called “neocon president” declaring war on all oppressive governments around the world?  Or was it just an extension of the Bush Doctrine of fighting terrorism?  I think the latter, but you are free to disagree.  Admittedly, it is not entirely clear.

What Has Happened Since 9/11

Whether you agree with Bush’s foreign policies or not (and certainly some mistakes have been made), the world has changed dramatically since 9/11.  Some of the events listed below have actually happened just in the last six weeks since the inauguration and Bush’s so-called freedom speech.  Let’s quickly revisit them.

October 2001:  In response to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, the US, along with a broad coalition, invaded Afghanistan. After a brief campaign, the oppressive Taliban regime was removed and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan was devastated. After a period of consolidation, interim President Harmid Kharzi was installed. In October 2004, Afghanistan held the first free election in its history. The world was stunned when over 10 million (80%) turned out to vote despite threats and intimidation. Harmid Kharzi was elected with over 55% of the vote.

March 2003: In keeping with the broadening War on Terror, the United States and a few allies invaded Iraq. While the Iraqi campaign was more involved and harder fought than the action in Afghanistan, the military victory was swift and surprisingly painless. The unspeakable tyrant, Saddam Hussein, was deposed, his ruthless sons killed, the centralized Baathist apparatus dismantled, and the dictator himself was captured and delivered into Iraqi custody.

As we all know, the occupation/stabilization phase of Iraqi operations turned quickly into a bloody counter-insurgency. The loose remains of Baathist loyalists and al-Qaeda fighters have plagued US forces and the emerging Iraqi government. Serious and valid questions were raised on the ability of Iraq to hold elections in this turbulent climate.

June 2004: The Coalition Provisional Authority transfers sovereignty to the Iraqi interim government.  Many liberals said this was impossible.

December 2004: In Ukraine, pro-western candidate Viktor Yushchenko defeated Moscow’s handpicked Prime Minister, a sign that freedom has come to that nation.  Yushchenko was almost poisoned to death prior to the election.

January 2005: In the face of numerous death and destruction threats from Baathist and al-Qaeda groups, Iraq held free and open elections. Despite the “You vote, you die” threats, over 8 million Iraqis turn out at the polls. The world was shocked.

Freedom Is Exploding In The Middle East

Just since President Bush’s inaugural address on January 20, and the election in Iraq at the end of that month, we have seen several more historic events with freedom blossoming.

February 2005: The newly elected Iraqi government, dominated by Shiites, reached out to the Sunnis in a good faith attempt at coalition rule. The newly elected Iraqi legislative body will soon begin drafting an Iraqi constitution.

February 2005: Hosni Mubarak who has ruled Egypt since 1981 announced that he is proposing a constitutional amendment to allow multiple candidates to compete in this year’s presidential elections. This potential policy change comes as the demands and size of the political opposition and democracy activists have grown.

February 2005: A car bomb kills 122 in Iraq; it was the single largest loss of life in the post-war occupation. The Iraqi government and people are deeply saddened but undeterred.

February 2005: Prince Saud, the Saudi Foreign Minister, told Newsweek that in the next election, women will be allowed to vote. The minister added that this is good for the election because “women are more sensible voters than men.”

February 2005: The former Lebanese Prime Minister was assassinated, and the Assad government of Syria, the long time occupier of Lebanon, is implicated. Due to massive and unprecedented public uprising and outcry, many of the officials of the Lebanese government, which has long been seen as a puppet of Syria, have resigned. A caretaker government has been established until free elections can be held.

February 2005: Boy Assad of Syria handed over 29 key Baathist loyalists, including Saddam’s brother-in-law to the new Iraqi government.   Syria is feeling the rise of freedom.

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Even The Liberals Are Starting To Come Around

In case you haven’t noticed, we are seeing a “paradigm shift” in the liberal media.  Given the fact that freedom (or at least the beginnings of freedom) is breaking out around the world, and especially in the Middle East, it is now impossible to ignore by the mainstream liberal media. 

For the most part, gone is the anti-war rhetoric such as: We wet to war for Iraq’s oil; we went to war for Halliburton; we went to war because Bush 41 told Bush 43 to do so. 

With each passing day, we are seeing more and more liberals acknowledge that the rise of freedom in the Middle East is a good thing.  To site such an example, here are some quotes from Thomas Friedman (a noted liberal) in his “Tipping Points”) editorial in Sunday’s New York Times:

“I think that what’s so interesting about the Middle East today is that we're actually witnessing three tipping points at once. Thanks to eight million Iraqis defying ‘you vote, you die’ terrorist threats, Iraq has been reframed from a story about Iraqi ‘insurgents’ trying to liberate their country from American occupiers and their Iraqi ‘stooges’ to a story of the overwhelming Iraqi majority trying to build a democracy, with U.S. help, against the wishes of Iraqi Baathist-fascists and jihadists.”

I don’t have to remind you that the liberals in the media despised the war in Iraq and blamed Bush for an unnecessary and ill-advised war.  Friedman goes on:

“For Iraq to be tipped in the right direction, it was necessary to have the election we did, but that was not sufficient. The sufficient thing is that a stable, decent Iraqi government emerge that can also quell the Sunni insurgency. That will depend in part on America’s willingness to stay the course in Iraq.”

America’s willingness to stay the course?  Prior to the presidential elections last November, most liberals were screaming that we must get out of Iraq.  Now many are changing their tune, especially given the events that have unfolded in the last six weeks.  Friedman concludes:

“Nevertheless, what’s happened [in the Middle East] in the last four weeks is not just important, it's remarkable. And if we can keep all three tipping points tipped [Iraq, Syria/Lebanon and Israel/Palestine], it will be incredible.”

What is happening in the Middle East is simply too historic to ignore, even for the liberals.

Bush Finally Gets Some Credit

President Bush is finally getting some credit for what is happening in the Middle East.   Even the liberal New York Times says so, at last, in an editorial today:

“It’s not even spring yet, but a long-frozen political order seems to be cracking all over the Middle East. Cautious hopes for something new and better are stirring along the Tigris and the Nile, the elegant boulevards of Beirut, and the impoverished towns of the Gaza Strip. It is far too soon for any certainties about ultimate outcomes. In Iraq, a brutal insurgency still competes for headlines with post-election democratic maneuvering. Yesterday a suicide bomber plowed into a crowd of Iraqi police and Army recruits, killing at least 122 people - the largest death toll in a single such bombing since the American invasion nearly two years ago. And the Palestinian terrorists who blew up a Tel Aviv nightclub last Friday underscored the continuing fragility of what has now been almost two months of steady political and diplomatic progress between Israelis and Palestinians.
Still, this has so far been a year of heartening surprises - each one remarkable in itself, and taken together truly astonishing . The Bush administration is entitled to claim a healthy share of the credit for many of these advances. It boldly proclaimed the cause of Middle East democracy at a time when few in the West thought it had any realistic chance. And for all the negative consequences that flowed from the American invasion of Iraq, there could have been no democratic elections there this January if Saddam Hussein had still been in power.”  [Emphasis added, GH.]

British editorialist Mark Steyn summed it up this way today on The Daily Telegraph’s (London) website (see the full article in the links below):

“But some of us - notably US deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz - thought things would go a lot better [in Iraq] than that. Wolfowitz was right, and so was Bush, and the Left, who were wrong about the Berlin Wall, were wrong again, the only difference being that this time they were joined in the dunce's corner of history by far too many British Tories. No surprise there. The EU’s political establishment doesn’t trust its own people, so why would they trust anybody else’s? Bush trusts the American people, and he’s happy to extend the same courtesy to the Iraqi people, the Syrian people, the Iranian people, etc.
Prof Glenn Reynolds, America’s Instapundit, observes that ‘democratisation is a process, not an event’. Far too often, it’s treated like an event: ship in the monitors, hold the election, get it approved by Jimmy Carter and the UN, and that’s it. Doesn’t work like that. What’s happening in the Middle East is the start of a long-delayed process. Eight million Iraqis did more for the Arab world on January 30 than 7,000 years of Mubarak-pace marching.”
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I supported the war in Iraq as I wrote in these pages on numerous occasions before and after it started.  I got more than my share of negative responses.  It is true that no weapons of mass destruction were found (not that they aren’t in Syria), but everyone – including the UN – believed that Saddam had such WMDs.  It is also true that Bush and his advisors under-estimated the insurgents and the terrorists in Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia.  Mistakes were made.

Yet with the historic events that have unfolded since we toppled Saddam, and in particular the events of the last six weeks since President Bush’s “freedom speech,” we can take pride in the fact that freedom is arising throughout the Middle East.

Sure it could all still fall apart.  Democracy in Iraq means they could elect another dictator or another Ayatollah.  Will women really get to vote in Saudi Arabia?  Who knows?  Will there really be a free election in Egypt next time?  I wouldn’t bet on it.

But here’s what I do believe.  The freedom genie is out of the bottle in the Middle East.  There will be setbacks, including some major ones.  Things could look as discouraging at times as they look encouraging today.  Certainly leaders like the Mullahs in Iran, the royal family in Saudi Arabia,  Mubarak in Egypt and others will resist freedom and democracy at every turn.  But in the next 5-10 years, we could all be surprised and delighted with how fast freedom has come to that fractious part of the world.

I believe that President Bush deserves much of the credit for what has happened up until now and what I hope will happen in the years ahead.  While I disagree with the president on other issues, as I wrote last week for example, I think the Middle East will be his legacy.

Very best regards,

Gary D. Halbert

Gary Halbert is the president and CEO of the ProFutures companies, a diversified investment advisory firm located in Austin, Texas. ProFutures offers professional financial planning services to a nationwide base of clients. Mr. Halbert's firm specializes in tactical investing, and its recommended investment programs include mutual funds, managed accounts with professional Investment Advisors and alternative investments. For more information about the programs offered, call 800-348-3601 or visit the website at


New York Times – Climate change in the Middle East.

Mark Steyn: The Arabs’ Berlin Wall has fallen.

Egypt’s election surprise (maybe).

“Tipping Points” editorial by Thomas Friedman.

Copyright © 2005 ProFutures Capital Management, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


"Gary D. Halbert, ProFutures, Inc. and Halbert Wealth Management, Inc. are not affiliated with nor do they endorse, sponsor or recommend any product or service advertised herein, unless otherwise specifically noted."

Forecasts & Trends is published by ProFutures, Inc., and Gary D. Halbert is the editor of this publication. Information contained herein is taken from sources believed to be reliable, but cannot be guaranteed as to its accuracy. Opinions and recommendations herein generally reflect the judgment of Gary D. Halbert and may change at any time without written notice, and ProFutures assumes no duty to update you regarding any changes. Market opinions contained herein are intended as general observations and are not intended as specific investment advice. Any references to products offered by Halbert Wealth Management are not a solicitation for any investment. Such offer or solicitation can only be made by way of Halbert Wealth Management’s Form ADV Part II, complete disclosures regarding the product and otherwise in accordance with applicable securities laws. Readers are urged to check with their investment counselors and review all disclosures before making a decision to invest. This electronic newsletter does not constitute an offer of sales of any securities. Gary D. Halbert, ProFutures, Inc. and all affiliated companies, InvestorsInsight, their officers, directors and/or employees may or may not have investments in markets or programs mentioned herein. Securities trading is speculative and involves the potential loss of investment. Past results are not necessarily indicative of future results.

Posted 03-01-2005 12:49 AM by Gary D. Halbert
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