January 12, 2005

Splendid clarity....

I highly recommend Norman Podhoretz's The War against World War IV, in the September Commentary. He looks at the many forces ranged against the Bush Doctrine; isolationists of both Left and Right, Liberal Internationalists, Realists, extreme-hawks like Angelo M. Codevilla...and of course all the world's tyrants and terrorists. It is a daunting catlog, and yet Podhoretz is soberly optimistic.

This is from the section on foreign-policy "Realists:"

...Until 9/11, the realists undoubtedly represented the single most influential school of thought in the world of foreign policy, with all others considered naïve or dangerous or both (though a patronizing pass might occasionally be given to liberal internationalists). It would not be going too far to say that for everyone of any great importance in that world, whether as a theorist or a practitioner, the realist perspective was axiomatic. And being, as it were, the default position, it was almost automatically adopted by George W. Bush, too, in his pre-9/11 incarnation. But on 9/11, Bush’s more or less reflexive realism took so great a hit that it collapsed in flames just as surely as did the Twin Towers.

Bush made no secret of his repudiation of realism, and he did not pussyfoot around it:

For decades, free nations tolerated oppression in the Middle East for the sake of stability. In practice, this approach brought little stability and much oppression, so I have changed this policy.

That took care of the first guiding precept of the realist perspective. And Bush was equally forthright—almost brutal—in giving the back of his hand to the realist prohibition against using force to transform the internal character of other states:

Some who call themselves realists question whether the spread of democracy in the Middle East should be any concern of ours. But the realists in this case have lost contact with a fundamental reality: America has always been less secure when freedom is in retreat; America is always more secure when freedom is on the march.

Farewell, then, to cuius regio eius religio as well.....

Podhoretz (like me) has a lot of faith in President Bush and in the strength of the American people. He reminds us of how, in WWIII (the Cold War) anti-communists like Whittaker Chambers thought that Americans "were sure that we lacked the stomach, the heart, the will, and the wit to stand effectively against the Soviet Union and its allies and sympathizers." They were wrong then, and there is reason to feel hopeful that the doubters are wrong now.

Posted by John Weidner at January 12, 2005 8:41 PM
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