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Michael Ubaldi, January 26, 2005.

The erudite Claudia Rosett explains one of the many practical benefits from what some call the "lofty" aspirations in President Bush's second inaugural address:

When Mr. Bush opened his second term last week with a call for global freedom, he made no particular mention of poverty. His main message was that both on principle and in the interests of its own security, America must work toward "the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." In laying out the foreign-policy agenda that dominated his speech, Mr. Bush spoke not of economics but of politics. He told the democratic dissidents of the unfree nations of the world: "Where you stand for liberty, we will stand with you." He made no mention of global economic growth, development goals or international financial aid.

Yet to whatever extent Mr. Bush's agenda plays out in practice, one of the main results would be a richer world for all — with the most dramatic benefits reaching those who are now among the poorest. One of the truths wrested at great cost from the grand social experiments of the 20th century was that the prerequisite for prosperity — if we are speaking of wealth for the many, not just for a ruling few — is freedom. It is not only by smothering free speech or jailing loyal opposition that dictators keep control. It is also by decreeing — in ways that suit the pleasures of the ruler, not the ruled — the rules and conditions under which people may seek work, earn money, own property and buy what they need to feed their families and otherwise pursue happiness. With every reasonable choice that gets cut off by dictatorial rule, with every payoff that must be made to authorities who exist for no other purpose than to please themselves and collect tolls, more human energy and talent and knowledge goes to waste.

Tragically — but vitally — the president will surely invite harsh criticism from those who have invested their lives in captive charity. A fine line separates mission from indenture, and in the 20th Century the West saw many hospitalers become so infatuated with their work that they now ignore or, worse, resist ways in which to release those whom they aid from the circumstances requiring their presence in the first. It is malignant pride, not care, that lets a splinted limb shrivel. This delicate enslavement must be challenged and supplanted with good works that are intended to one day render themselves unnecessary. Good works made possible, of course, by a country's liberation and guided orientation towards democratic sovereignty.

MORE: As to Rosett's main point, I've written on potential wealth creation by a democracy's free market twice before, here and here (second-to-last paragraph).

Michael Ubaldi, January 25, 2005.

Titan has been dominating headlines as of late but rest assured, Saturn's still where the Cassini spacecraft left it.

Michael Ubaldi, January 25, 2005.

The rightful detainment of unlawful combatants in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba has been the subject of such relentless vilification, acrimony and propaganda that a report of this kind to be found in the elite Boston Globe is just short of miraculous:

Information obtained through the interrogation of a Guantanamo Bay detainee led to a spectacular series of counterterrorism raids in Germany this month, in which more than 700 police swept through mosques, homes, and businesses in six cities and arrested 22 suspected militant extremists, according to a senior Defense Department official.

...The German raids of Jan. 12 are the most extensive intelligence coup attributed to the operation. The sweep was the largest counterterrorism operation in recent months in Europe.

For those concerned about human rights: tens, hundreds and perhaps thousands of Germans and Europeans have had theirs protected from two dozen killers.

Michael Ubaldi, January 25, 2005.

Nothing short of death or capture will stop terrorists in Iraq from harrassment and murder, but they're ever-shrinking, looking more like gangland thugs than ever:

Fighting erupted Tuesday in Baghdad's eastern Rashad neighborhood as Iraqi police fired on insurgents who were handing out leaflets warning people not to vote in Sunday's national elections.

While police suffered losses over several engagements, their assertive patrolling is encouraging. Northwest and west of Baghdad, captures continue:

Since Jan. 5, Iraqi Security Forces and Multi-National Forces have detained 249 people and confiscated numerous weapons and munitions.

...Marines and Soldiers from the 1st Marine Division of the I Marine Expeditionary Force detained 59 suspected insurgents and seized several weapons caches during operations throughout Al Anbar Province over the past 48 hours.

Not surprisingly, Sunni political intransigents, the skeptics' darlings, are watching the determination of Allied troops and Iraqis of all stripes move the country forward to elections — and seem to be losing their nerve.

SURPRISE-O-METER'S NEEDLE BARELY FLICKED: Tim found a Los Angeles Times article detailing a change in Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's political fortunes for the better. Standard elite-media bias is on full display, of course: how any dissident of a tyrannical regime involved in democratic opposition leadership from the West would not coordinate with American intelligence is beyond me, but author Edmund Sanders found it necessary to remind us that Allawi was "onetime CIA-backed." And the "array of problems that would usually spell defeat for an incumbent" are, taken separately from terrorism, reminiscent of Japan's and Germany's postwar struggles — and even a little less acute. But from any angle, Iraqis are not only confident in their growing municipalities but their statesmen in general, as well. An ambitious election campaign has done no harm, either.

In fact, I'm less interested in Iraqis' choice of representatives than the electoral accomplishment itself. While I would prefer Allawi to Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, I find the "military withdrawal" issue — short of suicidal candidates, of whom there are few — to be a red herring. Iraqi self-reliance will come about better if it is impolite ("We'll Remain; They Won't"). America's interest lies squarely in how the country independently conducts itself. So far, the future for assertive democrats is promising.

I'll be writing about that soon.

Michael Ubaldi, January 24, 2005.

Via Pejman Yousefzadeh, an audience described as far more appreciative of President Bush's inaugural address, as intended:

Millions of Iranians have been reported as having stayed home, on Thursday night which is their usual [weekend] and outgoing night, in order to see or hear the Presidential speech and the comments made by the Los Angeles based Iranian satellite TV and radio networks, such as NITV or KRSI.

The speech and its package of hope have been, since late yesterday night and this morning, the main topics of most Iranians' conversations during their familial and friendly gatherings, in the collective taxis and buses, as well as among groups of young Iranians who gather outside the cities on the Fridays.

Many were seen showing the "V" sign or their raised fists. Talks were focused on steps that need to be taken in order to use the first time ever favorable International condition.

Solidarity, justice, duty. Peggy Noonan, living in the Constitutionally guaranteed civil and political freedom of the East Coast, ought to look those words up in her Funk & Wagnalls. (Hat tip, IP.)

Michael Ubaldi, January 24, 2005.

Jim Angle, sitting in for Brit Hume on Brit's Special Report, interviewed the visionary Victor Davis Hanson on Iraq. I paraphrase: The election "will bring about a sweeping change to the Middle East," said Hanson, who added, "we're seeing the same, the same twenty-month pattern we saw in Afghanistan."


Michael Ubaldi, January 24, 2005.

Just a few days after raising a big, red banner reading "ENEMIES OF FREEDOM," terrorists attacking Iraq face another string of defeats:

Iraqi security forces have arrested the "most lethal" top lieutenant of Al Qaeda's leader in Iraq — a man allegedly behind most of the car bombings in Baghdad since the U.S.-led invasion, including the 2003 assault on U.N. headquarters that killed 22 people, the prime minister's office said Monday.

...Authorities also announced Monday that Iraqi security forces had arrested a man described as the chief of al-Zarqawi's propaganda operations. And in the northern city of Mosul, Iraqi forces seized one of al-Zarqawi's weapons suppliers.

As if that weren't enough, Iraq's Shiites reminded observers that they are the bane of theocratic authoritarians.

POLITICS AND THE NEWS: A nod to the Associated Press for reporting these stories more or less directly. Cleveland's premier AM news station's ABC affiliate couldn't help propagandizing after announcing the terrorist capture, claiming, "it should be good news for the Iraqi government, which is trying to convince voters that it will be safe enough to vote." Seeing as how turnout promises to be near eighty percent of the population, Baghdad is succeeding.

MORE: Rich Lowry comments. Smash rightly thinks Zarqawi should commission a tombstone, since he's already dug his own grave.

Michael Ubaldi, January 24, 2005.

One of Bill Buckley's sillier contentions in asking what President Bush "means" by his inaugural address was how, as the president declared, "there can be no human rights without human liberty."

I had an answer eighteen months ago: "No offering of abridged rights can substitute representative parity, nor can anything good come from a man indefinitely bereft of his natural right to free will."

Whittling a man's worth down to whatever scraps his government throws him is an insult to his Divinely willed determination — and ours, as well. At least the oppressed aren't utterly destitute, goes the rationalization. But "rights" here and there still amount to villenage if a man cannot choose how and by whom he is governed. In not directly challenging this before America made a moral compromise to its own detriment — a concession that the president would have us now take back. The Hudson Institute's Anne Bayefsky has more:

The notion of human rights as "indivisible and interdependent and interrelated" was an excuse to trump civil and political rights, or liberty, by a range of claims — some real, some imagined. The list of human rights now includes, for example, the right to be free of toxic waste.

Over the years, the opponents of liberty have given their project many noble-sounding titles. They claim they are championing "national sovereignty," "non-interference" in domestic jurisdiction, "cooperation" (instead of serious consequences for poor human-rights records), "non-selectivity" (to avoid identification of particular egregious abuses), and "human duties" owed to governments.

The only justification for a foreign nation's partial freedom is its place in transition towards full civil and political liberties, those resembling our own. If we can be satisfied when an undeserving prisoner has at least bread and water, we risk becoming kind-hearted accessories to his captivity.

Michael Ubaldi, January 23, 2005.

I don't mean to exclude. But one thousand words are here, and those for whom this snap is intended will understand perfectly.

Michael Ubaldi, January 23, 2005.

When I read that terrorist kingpin Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was declaring a war on "democracy," the Iraqi peoples' nascent one in particular, I saw an incredible ideological victory. I have said once, once more and again: strategic vacuity is our enemy's Achilles heel. Knowing little more than the nihilism of a depraved killer, Zarqawi has been led, full speed, headlong into a brick wall.

It was always said by the majority that no one but fools or supporters would call Zarqawi and his vermin "freedom fighters." Now Zarqawi himself concurs. There is no civil war in Iraq: only an invasion, a violation of Iraqi democratic sovereignty.

The Near East's brand of stateless authoritarian is dangerous, animalistic and fatal if ignored. But he is profoundly stupid. Via IP, Austin Bay has more.