Big Macs in Baghdad?

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," January 30, 2005, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS HOST: Big Macs in Baghdad? Well, maybe not right away. But were today's elections the first major step in big U.S. companies and others doing business in that country?

Our special guests on this and other economic subjects, Jack Welch in Boston. Jack, the legendary former CEO of G.E., and currently the president of Jack Welch, LLC, along with my friend, Steve Forbes, Steve, the editor-in-chief of Forbes. And, of course, you can see Steve each Saturday morning at 11:00 A.M. on the hugely, wildly popular "Forbes on FOX" show, as Jack knows, the network for financial news.

Right, Jack?


CAVUTO: That's right. I just wanted to start right away — but in all seriousness, Jack, I mean, you had said — I mean, when you were on with me a couple of weeks ago — that there are going to be a lot of naysayers who said it's going to be a disaster in Iraq. And you said — I'm paraphrasing here — "leave for the optimistic viewpoint." Today seems to echo that.

WELCH: It certainly does, Neil. When you think about the downside that President Bush had today, everyone now is all with it, but the downside of a terrible turnout and a bad election to his initiatives for the next four years would have been enormous. I am so thrilled with this result — this apparent result. And I think it does portend the beginnings of great things for the whole region.

CAVUTO: Are you surprised we haven't heard, Steve, from liberals a lot of congratulations today?

STEVE FORBES, FORBES CEO: I think they're still smarting about the election. I think they still see everything in the context of the election, not only the past one, but in 2000 in Florida. And I think the rest of the population's reaction should be, "Get over it. Let's look at the future."

Iraq is an amazing success, when you consider that with Germany, after World War II, it was at least three years before we elections — four years. Same thing in Japan. In Iraq, 18 months after a war where we had a huge insurgency after the war, they pulled off an amazing election.

CAVUTO: You know, Jack Welch, after John Kennedy had the success with the Cuban missile crisis, he was able to try to marshal that to getting his agenda through Congress. Will this president, with early indications, as Steve indicated, of success in Iraq — a long way to go yet — do the same?

WELCH: Well, he's got a State of the Union coming up. He's coming off of a very successful election in Iraq. And I think the momentum is on his side. As Steve says, the naysayers are being tougher than ever on his agenda, and he'll have to be out there selling it hard. I think he gained a lot of credibility in Iraq today, and I think that will go a long way towards helping his agenda.

CAVUTO: Go ahead. I'm sorry.

WELCH: And I said it could have been, you know, just awful for the agenda if, in fact, it had gone the other way.

CAVUTO: Yes. And it could have been like 30, 40 percent turnout, then everyone would have said it was a total waste of time. Do you agree, Steve?

FORBES: I do agree. And I think this gives a momentum. But I don't think we should underestimate the real job, as Jack said, President Bush has to do in really flogging to the public this program the way Ronald Reagan did. Because the opposition still hasn't gotten over the fact they didn't win. And I think if he goes over the head of the people, he can get something major through Congress.

CAVUTO: Jack, what about what we see now, as a result of this, for the U.S. and, beyond that, the global economic climate? We know that OPEC passed on changing quotas today when they met in Vienna. They always meet in fancy locations. I don't know what that's about. But they decided to keep oil where it was. We had this promising result in Iraq today. How do you think all that factors out in the weeks ahead?

WELCH: Well, it's all very positive right now. But we always have, in this new, uncertain world, the potential for an awful disaster. Now, barring that, the deck is really set for a wonderful run here now on the global economy. Inflation is under control. Oil will not go much higher. In fact, it'll probably slide down. And I see nothing but real strength coming out of this election today. And the State of the Union address — as long as we don't have one of these awful dislocations.

CAVUTO: Yes, you can't plan on that.

Steve, do you agree, quickly?

FORBES: I do. And I think, though, we should be prepared in the months ahead as Iraq tries to put all this together. There's going to be a lot of wrangling, a lot of fighting, a lot of divisions, and a lot of the headlines coming out of Iraq are going to sound like our own politics, division and all that kind of thing.

CAVUTO: There were a lot of problems with the Marshall Plan. And everyone was...

FORBES: Well, politics is messy. Get over it.

CAVUTO: That's right. All right, guys, thank you very much. Jack and Steve, appreciate it.

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