October 30, 2003

Sometimes clear, sometimes not ...

Some clarity from Thomas Friedman:

....Hogwash. The people who mounted the attacks on the Red Cross are not the Iraqi Vietcong. They are the Iraqi Khmer Rouge � a murderous band of Saddam loyalists and Al Qaeda nihilists, who are not killing us so Iraqis can rule themselves. They are killing us so they can rule Iraqis.

Have you noticed that these bombers never say what their political agenda is or whom they represent? They don't want Iraqis to know who they really are. A vast majority of Iraqis would reject them, because these bombers either want to restore Baathism or install bin Ladenism.

Let's get real. What the people who blew up the Red Cross and the Iraqi police fear is not that we're going to permanently occupy Iraq. They fear that we're going to permanently change Iraq. The great irony is that the Baathists and Arab dictators are opposing the U.S. in Iraq because � unlike many leftists � they understand exactly what this war is about. They understand that U.S. power is not being used in Iraq for oil, or imperialism, or to shore up a corrupt status quo, as it was in Vietnam and elsewhere in the Arab world during the cold war. They understand that this is the most radical-liberal revolutionary war the U.S. has ever launched � a war of choice to install some democracy in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world....

Friedman's an odd fellow. He sees things with great clarity�except inside the borders of the US. He can see that Bush, in trying to empower ordinary Iraqis, is waging a "radical-liberal revolutionary war." Liberal in the classic sense.

But in the context of domestic politics, "liberal' (and good) to Friedman equals something like the Statist positions of Teddy Kennedy. In the same article he calls Bush a "radical conservative." He just can't see that Bush is waging a "radical-liberal" war here too. The radical-conservative position would be to abolish Social Security. Bush wants to let people choose where they will invest their SS dollars.

The conservative position would be to privatize public schools. Bush wants to let ordinary people choose which public school their children attend. (That's what's really going on with "No Child Left Behind." If schools aren't "improving," parents can demand different schools. Of course if there are NO adequate schools, this might lead to de-facto privatization.)

The radical-Conservative position is to slash government programs. Bush is increasing spending, but also working hard at opening government work to competitive bidding by private firms. Also at channeling spending to faith-based organizations.

Posted by John Weidner at October 30, 2003 10:55 AM
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