13.11.06

Ideology Has Consequences

Ideology Has Consequences:

Buckley has said that Bush has been “engulfed” by Iraq and that if he had been a European prime minister he would have resigned by now. Other commentators known as conservatives have agreed: Andrew Sullivan, George Will, Francis Fukuyama. It is worth considering a statement by Richard Cheney:
Once you get to Baghdad, it’s not clear what you do with it. It’s not clear what kind of government you put in place of the one that’s currently there now. Is it going to be a Shia regime, a Sunni regime, a Kurdish regime? Or one that tilts toward the Baathists, or one that tilts toward Islamic fundamentalists? How much credibility is that going to have if it’s set up by the American military there? How long does the United States military have to stay there to protect the people that sign on for that government, and what happens once we leave?

Smart man, that Cheney. The only problem is that he said that back in 1991 during the first Gulf War when he was secretary of defense in the administration of George H.W. Bush. At that time, Brent Scowcroft was national security adviser and James Baker was secretary of state. Recently, Scowcroft has said that though he has been friends with Cheney for more than 30 years, he no longer really knows him. What has happened to Cheney is anybody’s guess.

It can’t be 9/11. We know from many sources that Bush had decided to invade Iraq long before 9/11. In The Right Man, David Frum recounts being interviewed for a position by Michael Gerson, head Bush speechwriter and also policy adviser, not long after Bush became president. Gerson told Frum that Bush would topple Saddam. At that time nothing was being said about weapons of mass destruction.

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Speaking in Whitehall later in 2003, Bush was at it again, claiming, “The establishment of a free Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global expansion of democracy ... as the alternative to instability and hatred and terror.” Sure, “global expansion of democracy.” Andrew Bacevich of Boston University, a strategic thinker, wrote of Bush’s
fusion of breathtaking utopianism with barely disguised machtpolitik. It reads as if it were the product not of sober, ostensibly conservative Republicans but of an unlikely collaboration of Woodrow Wilson and the elder Field Marshal von Moltke.
On April 24, Bush repeated his fantastic theory in a speech in Irvine, California:
I based a lot of my foreign policy decisions on some things I think are true. One, I believe that there’s an Almighty, and secondly, I believe one of the great gifts of the Almighty is the desire in everybody’s soul, regardless of what you look like or where you live, to be free. I believe liberty is universal. I believe people want to be free. And I know that democracies do not war with each other. And I know that the best way to defeat the enemy, the best way to defeat their ability to exploit hopelessness and despair is to give people a chance to live in a free society
Well, it is certainly taking a long time for what the Almighty wants to make its appearance in the actual world. Most of the world today is far from democratic. Over the long span of human history, democracy is almost invisible. In the real world, many people want a society in which the rules laid down in the Koran govern all activities and take absolute precedence over liberty. In Iraq, the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has no interest in freedom, and al-Sadr is the power behind the present Prime Minister Maliki. What planet is Bush living on? He makes the “metaphysical dogma” of the radical philosophes seem sober by comparison.

Before long, students may be allowed to take entire history courses in the expanding library of books analyzing Bush’s Iraq calamity and other failures of his administration, which also derive from his tendency to privilege ideology over realism. Supply-side ideology led to large tax cuts and mountainous deficits. Privatization ideology led to an incomprehensible and unnecessarily expensive prescription-drug plan. No previous administration has produced such an outpouring.

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