Beyond Baghdad

04/18/2003 12:00 am EST

Focus:

The chance that Iraq could now serve as a model for a moderate, Islamic state in which the riches of its oil production went to its people and not just a despotic ruler is an exciting prospect. With Turkey–the second largest member of NATO–and Yemen and Kuwait, Qatar, and even Jordan, we truly face the opportunity for a real change in the Middle East. But the most exciting news of all was to awake this morning–and, in full recognition of Zionism–to hear that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has stated that a trade-off between settlement land and peace was a difficult but worthwhile decision. This is a breakthrough of monumental proportions. It not only fosters the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, but also greatly increases the odds of a favorable resolution to Iraq’s reintroduction to the world community.

Today, in the central square of Baghdad there was a protest, in which young Iraqis demanded that they had the autonomous rights to lead their own futures. For the first time in a quarter of a century, Iraqis dissented. What a remarkable development. At the same time, there was a meeting held by community leaders who discussed the restoration of water services, power, and police control. The fact that vast majority of citizens are unemployed, impoverished, under 25, uneducated, and religiously indoctrinated into a world of isolation and limited access, is both a blessing and a curse as it is this youth, openness, and complete and total freedom to pursue new opportunities that will allow for both protests and power. It will most certainly be an exciting period ahead. We can only pray that Iraq paves the way for new progress in Israel and Palestine, secured by continued progress in Afghanistan, and that a better balance among Islamic governments helps also reduce the role of terrorism throughout our world. Fanaticism is the enemy of all we seek to accomplish. Yet, I remain a true believer in the value of the human spirit, and I believe many of the positive developments we will soon see will be a second wave of freedom that opens our world. And most importantly, I believe this will have a significant impact on our economy and our lifestyle. Perhaps it will prove to be nothing more than a pipe dream. But as I said, I am an optimist.

Aside from geopolitical implications of recent world events, I would note that the following item in the Digest is particularly important for investors. I have long been a proponent of dollar-cost averaging and firmly believe that now is an ideal time to begin such a program. Here Dan Wiener tackles the issue of understanding dollar-cost averaging and deciding whether or not it is right for you. (It is!) At the same time, to keep things in balance, the subsequent item, from Robert Prechter, highlights the potential risk in today’s market. Here, we present their opposing opinions and leave the final decision to you.

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