Yesterday, the George W. Bush Freedom Institute located in Dallas, Texas celebrated its grand opening in Washington D.C.:
George W. Bush Returns to Washington to Celebrate Freedom
President George W. Bush was back in Washington today, to mark the opening at his Bush Institute in Dallas of the “Freedom Collection.”
It was of course a gathering of many officials of his administration, but was far more: a reminder of how far support for what Bush used to call the “Freedom Agenda” had slipped in today’s Washington. The Bush event included a speech by the former president, but also remarks by dissidents from Syria, China, and Cuba and a live interview via Skype of Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma. Present also was Viktor Yushchenko, former president of the Ukraine and leader of its “Orange Revolution.” During his eight years Bush met personally with 180 key dissidents from 35 countries, the people whom the Bush Institute’s director James Glassman today called “the non-violent shock troops of democracy.” The support that Bush and his wife Laura, who spoke as well and who took a special interest in ending the dictatorship in Burma, gave to such dissident leaders is notably absent today.
Bush’s own speech recalled the themes of his Second Inaugural Address but updated it for the “Arab Spring.” He had three key messages. The first was that a regime can be brought down in a day, but building “durable accountable civic structures” takes years and may see many reverses. “The day when a dictator falls or yields to a democratic movement is glorious,” Bush noted, but “the years of transition that follow can be difficult.” Nevertheless, he argued, the alternative of ignoring the desire for freedom in the name of stability is a grave error: “[T]his foreign policy approach is not realistic…. Nor is it within the power of America to indefinitely preserve the old order, which is inherently unstable.”
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