Egypt and the Bush Doctrine
In the days following 9/11, President George W. Bush developed a strategy to protect our country that would become known as the "Bush Doctrine." One prong of this doctrine was known as the "Freedom Agenda." In short, the Freedom Agenda asserted that the best way to protect America was to encourage the creation and development of democracies around the world. (By in large, people who are free don't feel the need to attack others.)
The Freedom Agenda, in and of itself, was not a new concept. In fact, this was similar to the strategy of our country after WWII (Truman Doctrine). Where President Bush deserves special credit is that he recognized the Middle East had largely been bypassed by the tide of freedom that swept the world during the second half of the 20th century, and thus made the Middle East the focus of his Freedom Agenda. In theory, the birth of a new democracy in Iraq would be the cornerstone of this plan, and would pave the way for the spread of democracy in the Middle East.
Many "experts" and pundits (including some in his own administration) called Bush naive, and all but declared that the peoples of the Middle East were incapable of democratic government. The Freedom Agenda, they said, was doomed to failure. (At least in the Middle East.)
Today, in 2011, the people of Egypt have just cast off a repressive regime (see above pic). And tens of thousands have taken to the streets in places like Tunisia, Iran, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Yemen. People much smarter than me will debate how much of this can truly be attributed to the Bush Doctrine. But for what it's worth, I think there's a very good chance that if the Egyptian Revolution turns into something much larger, future historians will point to the Bush Doctrine as the "push" that got the snowball rolling.
President Bush led on principle, and whether or not you agreed with him, you always knew where he stood. (Lessons the current administration could stand to learn.) I admire President Bush, and I believe history will ultimately bear him out as one of our great presidents.