March 20, 2006

If Bush ruled the world (William Pfaff, MARCH 20, 2006, International Herald Tribune)

Intellectual poverty is the most striking quality of the Bush administration’s new National Security Strategy statement, issued on Thursday. Its overall incoherence, its clichés and stereotyped phraseology give the impression that Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser, and his fellow authors assembled it from the boilerplate of bureaucratic discourse with contempt for the Congress to whom it is primarily addressed.

It reveals the administration’s foreign policy as a lumpy stew of discredited neoconservative ideas with some neo- Kissingerian geopolitics now mixed in.

The statement’s only visible purpose is to address a further threat to Iran, as its predecessor, in 2002, threatened Iraq. The only actual “strategy” that can be deduced from it is that the Bush administration wishes to rule the world. The document is nonsensical in content, insulting to other nations and unachievable in declared intention.

If people read it to find a statement of American foreign policy’s objective, they will learn that the United States has “the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.” Good luck.

Luck? We’ve increased the number of free states from 40 in 1975 to almost 90 now–luck has had nothing to do with it.



March 15, 2006

US foreign policy puts accent on democracy (Caroline Daniel, March 16 2006, Financial Times)

The US will on Thursday place the promotion of democracy at the heart of its foreign policy as it adopts a tougher stance towards Russia, China and notably Iran.

The move comes in the new National Security Strategy published on Thursday – the first formal review since the invasion of Iraq.

The document marks the first significant revision of the landmark 2002 document that advocated pre-emptive strikes against perceived terrorist threats. […]

The document places “transformational democracy” as the overriding aim, in spite of rising criticism that the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been an expensive military and political failure.

Although the concept of pre-emptive strikes is now less prominent, the official denied that the US had abandoned the policy. […]

In the foreword, President George W. Bush says his strategy is based on two pillars: promoting freedom and confronting global challenges by “leading a growing community of democracies”. The struggle against militant Islamism is described as the “great ideological conflict of the early years of the 21st century”.

America’s mission is still one of “ending tyranny in our world” but “our National Security Strategy is idealistic about its goals and realistic about means”, the document says.

Wasn’t he supposed to back off and head back to Crawford with his tail between his legs?


March 5, 2006

Singh leads India’s three revolutions (Greg Sheridan, March 06, 2006, The Australian)

MANMOHAN Singh is an unlikely revolutionary. Yet as the leader of 1.1 billion people, the world’s largest democracy and its second-largest nation, the Indian Prime Minister has already enacted three profound revolutions.

As finance minister during the 1991 economic crisis, Singh decisively turned India towards market liberalisation. Then after the last election he became India’s first non-Hindu prime minister — he is a Sikh — showing the depth of India’s secular democracy.

Now, in the nuclear co-operation agreement he has struck with US President George W. Bush, Singh may have marked India’s decisive emergence as a global power. […]

Bush hailed New Delhi last week as a global power and took every step he could to cement a US-India partnership, in trade, economics, politics, defence co-operation, nuclear technology, the war on terror and the promotion of democracy.

While John Howard will operate on a more modest scale this week, the Prime Minister, too, seems to “get” India and understand the profound challenge it poses for Australian policy.


March 5, 2006

Why US shapes new global rules (The Monitor’s View, 3/06/06, CS Monitor)

The US-India deal, which brings India only partly into the norms of the Non-proliferation Treaty, is really a bilateral pact driven by the US. It’s also a US statement about the NPT’s failure to block bomb-building efforts by Iran and North Korea.

Another current example of the US trying to bend or create global rules is its demand to the United Nations on how to fix that body’s Human Rights Commission, which has included such members as Cuba and Sudan. A plan for partial reform pushed by UN leaders, reflecting compromise with the UN’s many nondemocratic states, is unacceptable to a White House that doesn’t want such a halfway step.

Many other examples add up to a US campaign to define the world in an American image, such as who controls the Internet’s protocols, by not putting Saddam Hussein on trial in the new international criminal court, and by forming a group of nations outside the Kyoto treaty to tackle climate change through technical fixes. It’s even tried to redefine the Geneva Conventions for the terrorist age by holding “enemy combatants.”

One of the President’s most important legacies is


February 27, 2006

Bush’s Grand Strategy (Michael Barone, 2/27/06, Real Clear Politics)

[P]re-emption was not the only doctrine in the document. The words just quoted were preceded by a clause reading, “While the United States will constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community …” Even while claiming the right to act pre-emptively, Bush agreed to Tony Blair’s plea for a second United Nations resolution to justify military action in Iraq, even though it was justified by previous resolutions and Saddam Hussein’s defiance of them.

And there was more to the strategy of securing America than just dealing with immediate threats. The NSS called for “global efforts to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations.” Bush critics say that he has undercut that by continuing to reject the Kyoto Protocol. But the agreement Bush concluded with India, China, Japan and Australia to limit growth of greenhouse gases seems likely to produce significant results, while the European countries, for all their hauteur, are failing to meet their Kyoto targets.

Bush has also gone beyond the NSS by agreeing to joint military operations with India and encouraging a Japanese military presence abroad — both counterweights to Chinese military power. Also going beyond his proposals is his massive commitment to combat AIDS in Africa, which is only hinted at in the document.

In other respects, Bush has not delivered on the promises of the NSS. The Free Trade Area of the Americas, envisioned for 2005, is nowhere in sight. And “an independent and democratic Palestine, living beside Israel in peace and security,” won’t appear soon.

Well, he can act unilaterally to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, and will if necessary, but you can’t unilaterally impose free trade. Meanwhile, Palestine is a democracy and Israel has been moved to the point where it’s about ready to recognize its independence — on Israeli terms — peace and security will follow.


November 16, 2005

Bush urges China to allow more freedom, lauds Taiwan (Judy Keen, 11/15/05, USA TODAY)

President Bush began his four-day trip to Asia today by challenging China to give its people more political and religious freedom and hailing Taiwan’s commitment to democracy.

“As China reforms its economy, its leaders are finding that once the door to freedom is opened even a crack, it cannot be closed,” he said. “As the people of China grow in prosperity, their demands for political freedom will grow as well.” […]

Taiwan has “delivered prosperity to its people and created a free and democratic Chinese society,” Bush said. Taiwan is self-governed, and the United States has said it will protect it if China uses force to bring it under the mainland government’s control.

Bush made his remarks in a speech in Kyoto, where he was meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi as part of his tour. Bush applauded Koizumi’s economic reforms and thanked him for his support in Iraq.

“We’ve got a strong friend in Japan when it comes to spreading democracy and freedom,” Bush said in a news conference today with Koizumi. […]

Bush travels to Busan, South Korea, today for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. He’ll visit Beijing and Mongolia before returning to Washington on Monday.

India, Russia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, New Zealand and Australia should really be on the itinerary just to demonstrate to the Chicoms and the world that we’ve got them surrounded.

President Discusses Freedom and Democracy in Kyoto, Japan (George W. Bush, 11/16/05, Kyoto, Japan)

Konichiwa. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for your kind introduction, and thank you for this invitation. Laura and I are pleased to be back in Japan, and we appreciate the warm welcome that we received here in Kyoto. We were so honored to stay at the Kyoto State Guest House. It’s a fantastic facility. I know the folks of this community have great pride in the guest house, and you should. Kyoto served as the capital of Japan for more than a thousand years — and it is still the cultural heart of this great nation. It’s a proud city where ancient teahouses and temples keep this country’s traditions alive — and scientists from its universities win Nobel Prizes. Kyoto is a symbol of Japan’s transformation into a nation that values its freedom and respects its traditions.

I have experienced this transformation of your country in a highly personal way. During World War II, my father and a Japanese official named Junya Koizumi were on opposite sides of a terrible war. Today, their sons serve as elected leaders of their respected nations. Prime Minister Koizumi is one of my best friends in the international community. We have met many times during my presidency. I know the Prime Minister well. I trust his judgment. I admire his leadership. And America is proud to have him as an ally in the cause of peace and freedom.

The relationship between our countries is much bigger than the friendship between a President and a prime minister. It is an equal partnership based on common values, common interests, and a common commitment to freedom. Freedom has made our two democracies close allies. Freedom is the basis of our growing ties to other nations in the region. And in the 21st century, freedom is the destiny of every man, woman, and child from New Zealand to the Korean Peninsula.

Freedom is the bedrock of our friendship with Japan. At the beginning of World War II, this side of the Pacific had only two democracies: Australia and New Zealand. And at the end of World War II, some did not believe that democracy would work in your country. Fortunately, American leaders like President Harry Truman did not listen to the skeptics — and the Japanese people proved the skeptics wrong by embracing elections and democracy.

As you embraced democracy, you adapted it to your own needs and your own circumstances. So Japanese democracy is different from American democracy. You have a prime minister — not a president. Your constitution allows for a monarchy that is a source of national pride. Japan is a good example of how a free society can reflect a country’s unique culture and history — while guaranteeing the universal freedoms that are the foundation of all genuine democracies.

By founding the new Japan on these universal principles of freedom, you have changed the face of Asia. With every step toward freedom, your economy flourished and became a model for others. With every step toward freedom, you showed that democracy helps governments become more accountable to their citizens. And with every step toward freedom, you became a force for peace and stability in this region, a valued member of the world community, and a trusted ally of the United States.

A free Japan has transformed the lives of its citizens. The spread of freedom in Asia started in Japan more than a half century ago — and today the Japanese people are among the freest in the world. You have a proud democracy. You enjoy a standard of living that is one of the highest in the world. By embracing political and economic liberty, you have improved the lives of all your citizens — and you have shown others that freedom is the surest path to prosperity and stability.

A free Japan has helped transform the lives of others in the region. The investment you have provided your neighbors helped jump-start many of Asia’s economies. The aid that you send helps build critical infrastructure — and delivers relief to victims of earthquakes, and typhoons, and tsunamis. And the alliance that you have made with the United States is the pillar of stability and security for a region — and a source of confidence in Asia’s future.

A free Japan is helping to transform the world. Japan and the United States send more aid overseas than any other two countries in the world. Today in Afghanistan, Japanese aid is building a highway that President Karzai says is essential for the economic recovery of this newly democratic nation. In Iraq, Japan has pledged nearly $5 billion for reconstruction — and you have sent your self defense forces to serve the cause of freedom in Iraq’s al-Muthanna province. At the start of this young century, Japan is using its freedom to advance the cause of peace and prosperity around the world — and the world is a better place because of Japanese leadership.

Japan has also shown that once people get a taste for freedom, they want more — because the desire for freedom is written in the hearts of every man and woman on this earth. With each new generation that grows up in freedom, the expectations of citizens rise — and the demand for accountability grows. Here in Japan, Prime Minister Koizumi has shown leadership by pushing crucial reforms to open your economy and make Japan’s institutions more responsive to the needs of its people. The Prime Minister knows that nations grow in wealth and stature when they trust in the wisdom and talents of their people — and that lesson is now spreading across this great region.

Freedom is the bedrock of America’s friendship with Japan — and it is the bedrock of our engagement with Asia. As a Pacific nation, America is drawn by trade and values and history to be a part of the future of this region. The extraordinary economic growth in the Pacific Rim has opened new possibilities for progress; it has raised new challenges that affect us all. These challenges include working for free and fair trade, protecting our people from new threats like pandemic flu, and ensuring that emerging economies have the supplies of energy they need to continue to grow. We have also learned that as freedom spreads throughout Asia and the world, it has deadly enemies — terrorists who despise freedom’s progress and who want to stop it by killing innocent men, women, and children — and intimidating their governments. I have come to Asia to discuss these common challenges — at the bilateral level during visits with leaders like Prime Minister Koizumi, and at the regional level through the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit. These issues are all vital — and by addressing them now, we will build a freer and better future for all our citizens.

Our best opportunity to spread the freedom that comes from economic prosperity is through free and fair trade. The Doha Round of negotiations in the World Trade Organization gives us a chance to open up markets for goods, and services, and farm products all across the globe. Under Doha, every nation will gain — and the developing world stands to gain the most. The World Bank projects that the elimination of trade barriers could lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. And the greatest obstacle to a successful Doha Round is the reluctance in many parts of the developed world to dismantle the tariffs, and barriers, and trade-distorting subsidies that isolate the world’s poor from the great opportunities of this century.

My administration has offered a bold proposal for Doha that would substantially reduce agricultural tariffs and trade-distorting subsidies in a first stage, and over a period of fifteen years, eliminate them altogether. Pacific Rim leaders who are concerned about the harmful effects of high tariffs and farm subsidies need to come together to move the Doha Round forward on agriculture — as well as on services and manufactured goods. And this year’s Summit in Korea gives APEC a chance to take a leadership role before next month’s WTO meeting in Hong Kong.

APEC is the premier forum in the Asia-Pacific region for addressing economic growth, cooperation, trade, and investment. Its 21 member economies account for nearly half of all world trade. By using its influence to push for an ambitious result in the Doha Round, APEC can help create a world trading system that is freer and fairer — and helps spread prosperity and opportunity throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

As we come together to advance prosperity, we must also come together to ensure the health and safety of our citizens. As economies open up, they create new opportunities — but this openness also exposes us to new risks. In an age of international travel and commerce, new diseases can spread quickly. We saw the need for international cooperation and transparency three years ago, when a previously unknown virus called SARS appeared in rural China. When an infected doctor carried the virus out of China, it spread to Vietnam and to Singapore and to Canada within a month. Before long, the SARS virus had spread to nearly every continent — and killed hundreds of people. By one estimate, the SARS outbreak cost the Asian-Pacific region about $40 billion. The lesson of this experience is clear: We all have a common interest in working together to stop outbreaks of deadly new viruses — so we can save the lives of people on both sides of the Pacific.

We now face a new and potentially more deadly threat from avian flu, which has infected bird populations across Asia and elsewhere. I am glad to see that governments around the region are already taking steps to prevent avian flu from becoming a pandemic. The World Health Organization is coordinating the global response to this threat — and the way forward is through greater openness, greater transparency, and greater cooperation. At the forthcoming summit, I look forward to discussing ways to help this region prepare for, and respond to, the threat of a pandemic. Every nation in the world has an interest in helping to detect and contain any outbreak before it can spread. At home, my country is taking important steps so that we are prepared in the event of an outbreak. And as the nations of Asia work to prevent a pandemic and protect their people from the scourge of avian flu, America will stand by their side.

As we address these challenges to public health, we must also confront the challenge of energy security in a tight global market where demand is growing. Asian nations understand that the best way to create opportunity and alleviate poverty is through economic growth. As their economies grow, they are using more energy. Over the last three years, the United States has launched a series of initiatives that will help these countries meet their energy needs — while easing demand on global markets, reducing pollution, and addressing the long-term challenge of climate change. These initiatives range from cleaner use of coal, to ethanol and biodiesel, to emission-free hydrogen vehicles, to solar and wind power, to clean-burning methane from mines, landfills, and farms.

This summer, we took an important step toward these goals by forming the Asian-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development. Together with Australia, and China, and India, Japan, and South Korea, we will focus on practical ways to make the best practices and latest energy technologies available to all. And as nations across this region adapt these practices and technologies, they will make their factories and power plants cleaner and more efficient. I plan to use my visit to the region to build on the progress we are making. By working together, we will promote economic growth and reduce emissions — and help build a better and cleaner world.

As we work together to meet these common challenges, we must continue to strengthen the ties of trust between our nations. And the best way to strengthen the ties of trust between nations is by advancing freedom within nations. Free nations are peaceful nations, free nations do not threaten their neighbors, and free nations offer their citizens a hopeful vision for the future. By advancing the cause of liberty throughout this region, we will contribute to the prosperity of all — and deliver the peace and stability that can only come with freedom.

And so the advance of freedom in Asia has been one of the greatest stories in human history — and in the young century now before us we will add to that story. Millions in this region now live in thriving democracies, others have just started down the road of liberty, and the few nations whose leaders have refused to take even the first steps to freedom are finding themselves out of step with their neighbors and isolated from the world. Even in these lonely places, the desire for freedom lives — and one day freedom will reach their shores as well.

Some Asian nations have already built free and open societies. And one of the most dramatic examples is the Republic of Korea — our host for the APEC Summit. Like many in this part of the world, the South Koreans were for years led by governments that closed their door to political reform but gradually opened up to the global economy. By embracing freedom in the economic realm, South Korea transformed itself into an industrial power at home — and a trading power abroad.

As South Korea began opening itself up to world markets, it found that economic freedom fed the just demands of its citizens for greater political freedom. The economic wealth that South Korea created at home helped nurture a thriving middle class that eventually demanded free elections and a democratic government that would be accountable to the people. We admire the struggle the South Korean people made to achieve their democratic freedom — and the modern nation they have built with that freedom. South Korea is now one of the world’s most successful economies and one of Asia’s most successful democracies. It is also showing leadership in the world, by helping others who are claiming their own freedom. At this hour Korean forces make up the third largest contingent in the multi-national force in Iraq — and by helping the Iraqis build a free society in the heart of the Middle East, South Korea is contributing to a more peaceful and hopeful world.

Taiwan is another society that has moved from repression to democracy as it liberalized its economy. Like South Korea, the people of Taiwan for years lived under a restrictive political state that gradually opened up its economy. And like South Korea, the opening to world markets transformed the island into one of the world’s most important trading partners. And like South Korea, economic liberalization in Taiwan helped fuel its desire for individual political freedom — because men and women who are allowed to control their own wealth will eventually insist on controlling their own lives and their own future.

Like South Korea, modern Taiwan is free and democratic and prosperous. By embracing freedom at all levels, Taiwan has delivered prosperity to its people and created a free and democratic Chinese society. Our one China policy remains unchanged. It is based on three communiqu s, the Taiwan Relations Act, and our belief that there should be no unilateral attempts to change the status by either side — the status quo by either side. The United States will continue to stress the need for dialogue between China and Taiwan that leads to a peaceful resolution of their differences.

Other Asian societies have taken some steps toward freedom — but they have not yet completed the journey. When my father served as the head of our nation’s diplomatic mission in Beijing thirty years ago, an isolated China was recovering from the turmoil unleashed by the cultural revolution. In the late 1970s, China’s leaders took a hard look at their country, and they resolved to change. They opened the door to economic development — and today the Chinese people are better fed, better housed, and enjoy better opportunities than they ever have had in their history.

As China reforms its economy, its leaders are finding that once the door to freedom is opened even a crack, it can not be closed. As the people of China grow in prosperity, their demands for political freedom will grow as well. President Hu has explained to me his vision of “peaceful development,” and he wants his people to be more prosperous. I have pointed out that the people of China want more freedom to express themselves, to worship without state control, to print Bibles and other sacred texts without fear of punishment. The efforts of Chinese people to — China’s people to improve their society should be welcomed as part of China’s development. By meeting the legitimate demands of its citizens for freedom and openness, China’s leaders can help their country grow into a modern, prosperous, and confident nation.

Access to American markets has played an important role in China’s economic development — and China needs to provide a level playing field for American businesses seeking access to China’s market. The United States supported China’s entry into the World Trade Organization because a China that abides by the same global rules as everyone else will contribute to a free and fair world trading system. When I met President Hu in New York recently, he said that China would bring more balance in our trade and protect intellectual property. I welcomed those commitments, just as I welcomed China’s announcement in July that it would implement a flexible, market-based exchange system for its currency. These statements are a good beginning — but China needs to take action to ensure these goals are fully implemented. The textile agreement our two nations reached last week shows that with hard work and determination, we can come together to resolve difficult trading issues. The agreement adds certainty and predictability for businesses in both America and China. I look forward to frank discussions with President Hu at APEC and in Beijing about our need to find solutions to our trade differences with China.

China can play a positive role in the world. We welcome the important role China has assumed as host of the six-party talks aimed at bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula. We look forward to resolving our trade differences in a spirit of mutual respect and adherence to global rules and standards. And we encourage China to continue down the road of reform and openness — because the freer China is at home, the greater the welcome it will receive abroad.

Unlike China, some Asian nations still have not taken even the first steps toward freedom. These regimes understand that economic liberty and political liberty go hand in hand, and they refuse to open up at all. The ruling parties in these countries have managed to hold onto power. The price of their refusal to open up is isolation, backwardness, and brutality. By closing the door to freedom, they create misery at home and sow instability abroad. These nations represent Asia’s past, not its future.

We see that lack of freedom in Burma — a nation that should be one of the most prosperous and successful in Asia but is instead one of the region’s poorest. Fifteen years ago, the Burmese people cast their ballots — and they chose democracy. The government responded by jailing the leader of the pro-democracy majority. The result is that a country rich in human talent and natural resources is a place where millions struggle simply to stay alive. The abuses by the Burmese military are widespread, and include rape, and torture, and execution, and forced relocation. Forced labor, trafficking in persons, and use of child soldiers, and religious discrimination are all too common. The people of Burma live in the darkness of tyranny — but the light of freedom shines in their hearts. They want their liberty — and one day, they will have it.

The United States is also concerned with the fate of freedom in Northeast Asia, where great powers have collided in the past. The Korean Peninsula is still caught in the past. An armistice — a truce — freezes the battle lines from a war that has never really come to an end. The pursuit of nuclear weapons threatens to destabilize the region. Satellite maps of North Korea show prison camps the size of whole cities, and a country that at night is clothed almost in complete darkness.

In this new century, China, Japan, and Russia have joined with the United States and South Korea to find a way to help bring peace and freedom to this troubled peninsula. The six-party talks have produced commitments to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons. These commitments must be implemented. That means a comprehensive diplomatic effort from all countries involved — backed by firm resolve. We will not forget the people of North Korea. The 21st century will be freedom’s century for all Koreans — and one day every citizen of that peninsula will live in dignity and freedom and prosperity at home, and in peace with their neighbors abroad.

In our lifetimes, we have already been given a glimpse of this bright future. The advance of freedom and prosperity across the Asian continent has set a hopeful example for all in the world. And though the democracies that have taken root in Asia are new, the dreams they express are ancient. Thousands of years before Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln, a Chinese poet wrote that, “the people should be cherished the people are the root of a country the root firm, the country is tranquil.” Today the people of Asia have made their desire for freedom clear — and that their countries will only be tranquil when they are led by governments of, by, and for the people.

In the 21st century, freedom is an Asian value — because it is a universal value. It is freedom that enables the citizens of Asia to live lives of dignity. It is freedom that has unleashed the creative talents of the Asian people. It is freedom that gives the citizens of this continent confidence in the future of peace for their children and grandchildren. And in the work that lies ahead, the people of this region can know: You have a partner in the American government — and a friend in the American people.

On behalf of my country, thank you all very much. (Applause.)


November 14, 2005

African leaders hail Liberia poll (BBC, 11/14/05)

With almost all the votes from Thursday’s run-off election counted, Ms Johnson-Sirleaf has an insurmountable lead. She is expected to be named president when official results are announced soon – making her the first woman to be elected president anywhere in Africa.

The leaders of Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Senegal, Ethiopia and Algeria as well as the chairman of the African Union commission issued a statement during a meeting in Abuja on AU issues.

They described the vote as “peaceful, transparent, free and fair,” AFP news agency reported.

George Bush effected unilateral regime change and democratization in Liberia, despite the fact it was never even alleged to pose a risk to our national security, and no one said “boo.”


November 13, 2005

Personal Tales of Struggle Resonate With President (Warren Vieth, 11/13/05, LA Times)

It was an activist’s dream come true: an unexpected call to the White House, a private audience with the president, an opportunity to influence U.S. policy, maybe even alter the course of world events.

For Charm Tong, it happened two weeks ago. For about an hour, President Bush listened as the 24-year-old refugee told the story of her life as a Burmese exile in Thailand — and as she described the systematic abuse of ethnic minority women by the military regime in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

“The president was very interested in what is going on inside the country, to the people, to the women, how rape is used as a weapon of war,” Charm Tong later told a reporter, as she unwound on a park bench not far from the White House. “He asked many questions.”

Among them, she said, was the biggest question of all: What could the United States do to help? She urged Bush to use his trip this week to Asia to persuade other countries, particularly Japan, to bring more pressure to bear on the military dictatorship in Rangoon.

Bush leaves Monday for Japan, China, Mongolia and South Korea, where he will attend an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting. “He said he would raise the issue with the countries,” Charm Tong said.

It was


November 11, 2005

President Bush Delivers Remarks on the War on Terrorism (George W. Bush, November 11, 2005, Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania)

At this hour, a new generation of Americans is defending our flag and our freedom in the first war of the 21st century. The war came to our shores on September the 11th, 2001. That morning, we saw the destruction that terrorists intend for our nation. We know that they want to strike again. And our nation has made a clear choice: We will confront this mortal danger to all humanity; we will not tire or rest until the war on terror is won. (Applause.)

In the four years since September the 11th, the evil that reached our shores has reappeared on other days, in other places — in Mombasa and Casablanca and Riyadh and Jakarta and Istanbul and Madrid and Beslan and Taba and Netanya and Baghdad, and elsewhere. In the past few months, we have seen a new terror offensive with attacks on London and Sharm el-Sheikh, another deadly strike in Bali, and this week, a series of bombings in Amman, Jordan, that killed dozens of innocent Jordanians and their guests.

All these separate images of destruction and suffering that we see on the news can seem like random, isolated acts of madness — innocent men and women and children who have died simply because they boarded the wrong train, or worked in the wrong building, or checked into the wrong hotel. Yet, while the killers choose their victims indiscriminately, their attacks serve a clear and focused ideology — a set of beliefs and goals that are evil, but not insane.

Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; and still others, Islamo-fascism. Whatever it’s called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam. This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision: the establishment, by terrorism, subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom. These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against Christians and Hindus and Jews — and against Muslims, themselves, who do not share their radical vision.

Many militants are part of a global, borderless terrorist organization like al Qaeda — which spreads propaganda, and provides financing and technical assistance to local extremists, and conducts dramatic and brutal operations like the attacks of September the 11th. Other militants are found in regional groups, often associated with al Qaeda — paramilitary insurgencies and separatist movements in places like Somalia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Chechnya, Kashmir and Algeria. Still others spring up in local cells — inspired by Islamic radicalism, but not centrally directed. Islamic radicalism is more like a loose network with many branches than an army under a single command. Yet these operatives, fighting on scattered battlefields, share a similar ideology and vision for the world.

We know the vision of the radicals because they have openly stated it — in videos and audiotapes and letters and declarations and on websites.

First, these extremists want to end American and Western influence in the broader Middle East, because we stand for democracy and peace, and stand in the way of their ambitions. Al Qaeda’s leader, Osama bin Laden, has called on Muslims to dedicate, their “resources, their sons and money to driving the infidels out of our lands.” The tactics of al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists have been consistent for a quarter of a century: They hit us, and expect us to run.

Last month, the world learned of a letter written by al Qaeda’s number two leader, a guy named Zawahiri. And he wrote this letter to his chief deputy in Iraq — the terrorist Zarqawi. In it, Zawahiri points to the Vietnam War as a model for al Qaeda. This is what he said: “The aftermath of the collapse of American power in Vietnam — and how they ran and left their agents — is noteworthy.” The terrorists witnessed a similar response after the attacks on American troops in Beirut in 1983 and Mogadishu in 1993. They believe that America can be made to run again — only this time on a larger scale, with greater consequences.

Second, the militant network wants to use the vacuum created by an American retreat to gain control of a country — a base from which to launch attacks and conduct their war against non-radical Muslim governments. Over the past few decades, radicals have specifically targeted Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and Jordan for potential takeover. They achieved their goal, for a time, in Afghanistan. And now they’ve set their sights on Iraq. In his recent letter, Zawahiri writes that al Qaeda views Iraq as, “the place for the greatest battle.” The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity. We must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war against the terrorists. (Applause.)

Third, these militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region, and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia. Zawahiri writes that the terrorists, “must not have their mission end with the expulsion of the Americans from Iraq.” He goes on to say: “[T]he jihad … requires several incremental goals. … Expel the Americans from Iraq. … Establish an Islamic authority over as much territory as you can to spread its power in Iraqo Extend the jihad wave to the secular countries neighboring Iraq.”

With the greater economic, military and political power they seek, the terrorists would be able to advance their stated agenda: to develop weapons of mass destruction; to destroy Israel; to intimidate Europe; to assault the American people; and to blackmail our government into isolation.

Some might be tempted to dismiss these goals as fanatical or extreme. They are fanatical and extreme — but they should not be dismissed. Our enemy is utterly committed. As Zarqawi has vowed, “We will either achieve victory over the human race or we will pass to the eternal life.” (Applause.) And the civilized world knows very well that other fanatics in history, from Hitler to Stalin to Pol Pot, consumed whole nations in war and genocide before leaving the stage of history. Evil men, obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience, must be taken very seriously — and we must stop them before their crimes can multiply.

Defeating the militant network is difficult, because it thrives, like a parasite, on the suffering and frustration of others. The radicals exploit local conflicts to build a culture of victimization, in which someone else is always to blame and violence is always the solution. They exploit resentful and disillusioned young men and women, recruiting them through radical mosques as pawns of terror. And they exploit modern technology to multiply their destructive power. Instead of attending far-away training camps, recruits can now access online training libraries to learn how to build a roadside bomb or fire a rocket-propelled grenade — and this further spreads the threat of violence, even within peaceful democratic societies.

The influence of Islamic radicalism is also magnified by helpers and enablers. They’ve been sheltered by authoritarian regimes — allies of convenience like Iran and Syria — that share the goal of hurting America and modern Muslim governments, and use terrorist propaganda to blame their own failures on the West, on America, and on the Jews. This week the government of Syria took two disturbing steps. First, it arrested Dr. Kamal Labwani for serving as an advocate for democratic reform. Then President Assad delivered a strident speech that attacked both the Lebanese government and the integrity of the Mehlis investigation into the assassination of Lebanon’s former prime minister.

The government of Syria must do what the international community has demanded: cooperate fully with the Mehlis investigation and stop trying to intimidate and de-stabilize the Lebanese government. The government of Syria must stop exporting violence and start importing democracy. (Applause.)

The radicals depend on front operations, such as corrupted charities, which direct money to terrorist activity. They are strengthened by those who aggressively fund the spread of radical, intolerant versions of Islam into unstable parts of the world. The militants are aided as well by elements of the Arab news media that incite hatred and anti-Semitism, that feed conspiracy theories, and speak of a so-called American “war on Islam” — with seldom a word about American action to protect Muslims in Afghanistan and Bosnia and Somalia and Kosovo and Kuwait and Iraq; or our generous assistance to Muslims recovering from natural disasters in places like Indonesia and Pakistan. (Applause.)

Some have also argued that extremism has been strengthened by the actions in Iraq — claiming that our presence in that country has somehow caused or triggered the rage of radicals. I would remind them that we were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001. (Applause.) The hatred of the radicals existed before Iraq was an issue, and it will exist after Iraq is no longer an excuse. The government of Russia did not support Operation Iraqi Freedom — and, yet, the militants killed more than 150 Russian schoolchildren in Beslan.

Over the years these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence: the Israeli presence on the West Bank, the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, the defeat of the Taliban, or the Crusades of a thousand years ago. In fact, we’re not facing a set of grievances that can be soothed and addressed. We’re facing a radical ideology with inalterable objectives: to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world. No act of ours invited the rage of killers — and no concession, bribe, or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder. On the contrary, they target nations whose behavior they believe they can change through violence. Against such an enemy, there is only one effective response: We will never back down, we will never give in, we will never accept anything less than complete victory. (Applause.)

The murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century. Yet in many ways, this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century. Like the ideology of communism, Islamic radicalism is elitist, led by a self-appointed vanguard that presumes to speak for the Muslim masses. Bin Laden says his own role is to tell Muslims, “what is good for them and what is not.” And what this man who grew up in wealth and privilege considers good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and suicide bombers. He assures them that this road — that this is the road to paradise — though he never offers to go along for the ride. (Applause.)

Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy teaches that innocent individuals can be sacrificed to serve a political vision. And this explains their cold-blooded contempt for human life. We have seen it in the murders of Daniel Pearl and Nicholas Berg and Margaret Hassan and many others. In a courtroom in the Netherlands, the killer of Theo Van Gogh turned to the victim’s grieving mother and said, “I don’t feel your pain … because I believe you’re an infidel.” And in spite of this veneer of religious rhetoric, most of the victims claimed by the militants are fellow Muslims.

Recently, in the town of Huwaydar, Iraq, a terrorist detonated a pickup truck parked along a busy street lined with restaurants and shops, just as residents were gathering to break the day-long fast observed during Ramadan. The explosion killed at least 25 people and wounded 34. When unsuspecting Muslims breaking their Ramadan fast are targeted for death, or 25 Iraqi children are killed in a bombing, or Iraqi teachers are executed at their school, this is murder, pure and simple — the total rejection of justice and honor and morality and religion. (Applause.)

These militants are not just the enemies of America or the enemies of Iraq, they are the enemies of Islam and they are the enemies of humanity. And we have seen this kind of shameless cruelty before — in the heartless zealotry that led to the gulags, the Cultural Revolution, and the killing fields.

Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy pursues totalitarian aims. Its leaders pretend to be an aggrieved party, representing the powerless against imperial enemies. In truth, they have endless ambitions of imperial domination — and they wish to make everyone powerless, except themselves. Under their rule, they have banned books, and desecrated historical monuments, and brutalized women. They seek to end dissent in every form, to control every aspect of life, to rule the soul itself. While promising a future of justice and holiness, the terrorists are preparing a future of oppression and misery.

Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy is dismissive of free peoples — claiming that men and women who live in liberty are weak and decadent. Zarqawi has said that Americans are, “the most cowardly of God’s creatures.” But let us be clear: It is cowardice that seeks to kill children and the elderly with car bombs, and cuts the throat of a bound captive, and targets worshipers leaving a mosque.

It is courage that liberated more than 50 million people from tyranny. It is courage that keeps an untiring vigil against the enemies of rising democracies. And it is courage in the cause of freedom that will once again destroy the enemies of freedom. (Applause.)

And Islamic radicalism, like the ideology of communism, contains inherent contradictions that doom it to failure. By fearing freedom — by distrusting human creativity and punishing change and limiting the contributions of half a population — this ideology undermines the very qualities that make human progress possible, and human societies successful. The only thing modern about the militants’ vision is the weapons they want to use against us. The rest of their grim vision is defined by a warped image of the past — a declaration of war on the idea of progress itself. And whatever lies ahead in the war against this ideology, the outcome is not in doubt. Those who despise freedom and progress have condemned themselves to isolation and decline and collapse. Because free peoples believe in the future, free peoples will own the future. (Applause.)

We didn’t ask for this global struggle, but we’re answering history’s call with confidence, and with a comprehensive strategy. Defeating a broad and adaptive network requires patience, constant pressure, and strong partners in Europe and in the Middle East and North Africa and Asia and beyond. Working with these partners, we’re disrupting militant conspiracies, we’re destroying their ability to make war, and we’re working to give millions in a troubled region a hopeful alternative to resentment and violence.

First, we’re determined to prevent attacks of the terrorist networks before they occur. We are reorganizing our government to give this nation a broad and coordinated homeland defense. We’re reforming our intelligence agencies for the incredibly difficult task of tracking enemy activity — based on information that often comes in small fragments from widely scattered sources, both here and abroad. And we’re acting, along with governments from other countries, to destroy the terrorist networks and incapacitate their leadership.

Together with our partners, we’ve disrupted a number of serious al Qaeda terrorist plots since September the 11th — including several plots to attack inside the United States. Our coalition against terror has killed or captured nearly all those directly responsible for the September the 11th attacks. We’ve captured or killed several of bin Laden’s most serious deputies, al Qaeda managers and operatives in more than 24 countries; the mastermind of the USS Cole bombing, who was chief of al Qaeda’s operations in the Persian Gulf; the mastermind of the bombings in Jakarta and Bali; a senior Zarqawi terrorist planner, who was planning attacks in Turkey; and many of their senior leaders in Saudi Arabia.

Because of this steady progress, the enemy is wounded — but the enemy is still capable of global operations. Our commitment is clear: We will not relent until the organized international terror networks are exposed and broken, and their leaders are held to account for their murder. (Applause.)

Second, we’re determined to deny weapons of mass destruction to outlaw regimes, and to their terrorist allies who would use them without hesitation. (Applause.) The United States, working with Great Britain and Pakistan and other nations, has exposed and disrupted a major black-market operation in nuclear technology led by A.Q. Khan. Libya has abandoned its chemical and nuclear weapons programs, as well as its long-range ballistic missiles.

And in the past year, America and our partners in the Proliferation Security Initiative have stopped more than a dozen shipments of suspect weapons technology, including equipment for Iran’s ballistic missile program. This progress has reduced the danger to free nations, but it has not removed it. Evil men who want to use horrendous weapons against us are working in deadly earnest to gain them. And we’re working urgently to keep the weapons of mass murder out of the hands of the fanatics.

Third, we’re determined to deny radical groups the support and sanctuary of outlaw regimes. State sponsors like Syria and Iran have a long history of collaboration with terrorists, and they deserve no patience from the victims of terror. The United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor them, because they’re equally guilty of murder. (Applause.)

Fourth, we’re determined to deny the militants control of any nation, which they would use as a home base and a launching pad for terror. This mission has brought new and urgent responsibilities to our armed forces. American troops are fighting beside Afghan partners and against remnants of the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies. We’re working with President Musharraf to oppose and isolate the militants in Pakistan. We’re fighting the regime remnants and terrorists in Iraq. The terrorist goal is to overthrow a rising democracy, claim a strategic country as a haven for terror, destabilize the Middle East, and strike America and other free nations with increasing violence. Our goal is to defeat the terrorists and their allies at the heart of their power, so we will defeat the enemy in Iraq. (Applause.)

Our coalition, along with our Iraqi allies, is moving forward with a comprehensive plan. Our strategy is to clear, hold, and build. We’re working to clear areas from terrorist control, to hold those areas securely, and to build lasting, democratic Iraqi institutions through an increasingly inclusive political process. In recent weeks, American and Iraqi troops have conducted several major assaults to clear out enemy fighters in Baghdad, and parts of Iraq.

Two weeks ago, in Operation Clean Sweep, Iraq and coalition forces raided 350 houses south of Baghdad, capturing more than 40 of the terrorist killers. Acting on tips from local citizens, our forces have recently launched air strikes against terrorist safe houses in and around the towns of Ubaydi and Husaybah. We brought to justice two key senior al Qaeda terrorist leaders. And in Mosul, coalition forces killed an al Qaeda cell leader named Muslet, who was personally involved in at least three videotaped beheadings. We’re on the hunt. We’re keeping pressure on the enemy. (Applause.)

And thousands of Iraqi forces have been participating in these operations, and even more Iraqis are joining the fight. Last month, nearly 3,000 Iraqi police officers graduated from 10 weeks of basic training. They’ll now take their places along other brave Iraqis who are taking the fight to the terrorists across their own country. Iraqi police and security forces are helping to clear terrorists from their strongholds, helping to hold onto areas that we’ve cleared; they’re working to prevent the enemy from returning. Iraqi forces are using their local expertise to maintain security, and to build political and economic institutions that will help improve the lives of their fellow citizens.

At the same time, Iraqis are making inspiring progress toward building a democracy. Last month, millions of Iraqis turned out to vote, and they approved a new constitution that guarantees fundamental freedoms and lays the foundation for lasting democracy. Many more Sunnis participated in this vote than in January’s historic elections, and the level of violence was lower.

Now, Iraqis are gearing up for December 15th elections, when they will go to the polls to choose a government under the new constitution. The new government will serve a four-year term, and it will represent all Iraqis. Even those who voted against the constitution are now organizing and preparing for the December elections. Multiple Sunni Arab parties have submitted a list of candidates, and several prominent Sunni politicians are running on other slates. With two successful elections completed, and a third coming up next month, the Iraqi people are proving their determination to build a democracy united against extremism and violence. (Applause.)

The work ahead involves great risk for Iraqis and for American and coalition forces. We’ve lost some of our nation’s finest men and women in this war on terror. Each of these men and women left grieving families and left loved ones at home. Each of these patriots left a legacy that will allow generations of fellow Americans to enjoy the blessings of liberty. Each loss of life is heartbreaking. And the best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete the mission and to lay the foundation of peace for generations to come. (Applause.)

The terrorists are as brutal an enemy as we’ve ever faced, unconstrained by any notion of our common humanity or by the rules of warfare. No one should underestimate the difficulties ahead, nor should they overlook the advantages we bring to this fight.

Some observers look at the job ahead and adopt a self-defeating pessimism. It is not justified. With every random bombing, with every funeral of a child, it becomes more clear that the extremists are not patriots or resistance fighters — they’re murderers at war with the Iraqi people themselves.

In contrast, the elected leaders of Iraq are proving to be strong and steadfast. By any standard or precedent of history, Iraq has made incredible political progress — from tyranny, to liberation, to national elections, to the ratification of a constitution — in the space of two-and-a-half years. (Applause.)

I have said, as Iraqis stand up, Americans will stand down. And with our help, the Iraqi military is gaining new capabilities and new confidence with each passing month. At the time of our Fallujah operations a year ago, there were only a few Iraqi army battalions in combat. Today, there are nearly 90 Iraqi army battalions fighting the terrorists alongside our forces. (Applause.) General David Petraeus says, “Iraqis are in the fight. They’re fighting and dying for their country, and they’re fighting increasingly well.” This progress is not easy, but it is steady. And no fair-minded person should ignore, deny, or dismiss the achievements of the Iraqi people. (Applause.)

And our debate at home must also be fair-minded. One of the hallmarks of a free society and what makes our country strong is that our political leaders can discuss their differences openly, even in times of war. When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support. I also recognize that some of our fellow citizens and elected officials didn’t support the liberation of Iraq. And that is their right, and I respect it. As President and Commander-in-Chief, I accept the responsibilities, and the criticisms, and the consequences that come with such a solemn decision.

While it’s perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. (Applause.) Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community’s judgments related to Iraq’s weapons programs.

They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction. And many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: “When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security.” That’s why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate — who had access to the same intelligence — voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power. (Applause.)

The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges. (Applause.) These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America’s will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them. (Applause.) Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. (Applause.) And our troops deserve to know that whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less than victory. (Applause.)

The fifth element of our strategy in the war on terror is to deny the militants future recruits by replacing hatred and resentment with democracy and hope across the broader Middle East. This is difficult, and it’s a long-term project, yet there is no alternative to it. Our future and the future of the region are linked. If the broader Middle East is left to grow in bitterness, if countries remain in misery while radicals stir the resentment of millions, then that part of the world will be a source of endless conflict and mounting danger, in our generation and for the next.

If the peoples of that region are permitted to choose their own destiny, and advance by their own energy and participation of free men and women, then the extremists will be marginalized, and the flow of violent radicalism to the rest of the world will slow and eventually end. By standing for hope and freedom of others, we make our own freedom more secure.

America is making this stand in practical ways. We’re encouraging our friends in the Middle East, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to take the path of reform, to strengthen their own societies in the fight against terror by respecting the rights and choices of their own people. We’re standing with dissidents and exiles against oppressive regimes, because we know that the dissidents of today will be the democratic leaders of tomorrow. We’re making our case through public diplomacy — stating clearly and confidently our belief in self-determination, and the rule of law, and religious freedom, and equal rights for women — beliefs that are right and true in every land and in every culture. (Applause.)

As we do our part to confront radicalism and to protect the United States, we know that a lot of vital work will be done within the Islamic world itself. And the work is beginning. Many Muslim scholars have already publicly condemned terrorism, often citing Chapter 5, Verse 32 of the Koran, which states that killing an innocent human being is like killing all of humanity, and saving the life of one person is like saving all humanity. (Applause.) After the attacks July — on July 7th in London, an imam in the United Arab Emirates declared, “Whoever does such a thing is not a Muslim, nor a religious person.” The time has come for responsible Islamic leaders to join in denouncing an ideology that exploits Islam for political ends, and defiles a noble faith. (Applause.)

Many people of the Muslim faith are proving their commitment at great personal risk. Everywhere we’ve engaged the fight against extremism, Muslim allies have stood up and joined the fight, becoming partners in this vital cause. Afghan troops are in combat against Taliban remnants. Iraqi soldiers are sacrificing to defeat al Qaeda in their country. These brave citizens know the stakes — the survival of their own liberty, the future of their own region, the justice and humanity of their own tradition — and the United States of America is proud to stand beside them. (Applause.)

With the rise of a deadly enemy and the unfolding of a global ideological struggle, our time in history will be remembered for new challenges and unprecedented dangers. And yet this fight we have joined is also the current expression of an ancient struggle — between those who put their faith in dictators, and those who put their faith in the people. Throughout history, tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that murder is justified to serve their grand vision — and they end up alienating decent people across the globe. Tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that regimented societies are strong and pure — until those societies collapse in corruption and decay. Tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that free men and women are weak and decadent — until the day that free men and women defeat them.

We don’t know the course of our own struggle will take, or the sacrifices that might lie ahead. We do know, however, that the defense of freedom is worth our sacrifice, we do know the love of freedom is the mightiest force of history, and we do know the cause of freedom will once again prevail. (Applause.)

Thank you for coming. May God bless our veterans, may God bless our troops in harm’s way, and may God continue to bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

The vote that keeps on giving.


November 4, 2005

The Freedom Crusade (David C. Hendrickson & Robert W. Tucker, Fall 2005, The National Interest)

A central question raised by the Bush Doctrine is the extent to which it comports with the historic understanding of the American purpose. Normally, an active role in the propagation of free institutions is attributed to Woodrow Wilson, and it has become customary to identify America’s recent presidents–especially Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush–as “neo-Wilsonians.” But Bush goes further, insisting that the policy proclaimed in his second Inaugural Address is a logical outgrowth of America’s historic commitment to free institutions: “From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value. . . . Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government. . . . Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation.”

The determination of the “intentions” or “original understanding” of the Founding Fathers has often excited attention and speculation, but as often as not their intentions have seemed shrouded in ambiguity. The “silences of the Constitution” have often been as important–and mystifying–as its plain avowals. But the questions raised by the Bush Doctrine–whether it is rightful to propagate changes in another nation’s form of government and what role the United States should play in the protection and expansion of free institutions–often commanded serious attention, and the answers given by the Founders and their epigones lend no support to the Bush Doctrine.

The question of whether force might be used to revolutionize foreign governments arose quickly after the making of the Constitution, in the wars provoked by the French Revolution. The British government, James Madison would later recall, “thought a war of more than 20 years called for against France by an edict, afterwards disavowed, which assumed the policy of propagating changes of Government in other Countries.” The offensive edict to which Madison refers is the declaration of the French Convention on November 19, 1792, that “it will accord fraternity and assistance to all peoples who shall wish to recover their liberty”–a declaration that bears an uncanny resemblance to the policy Bush announced in his second Inaugural Address. Alexander Hamilton also took umbrage at the doctrine and argued that the French decree was “little short of a declaration of War against all nations, having princes and privileged classes”, equally repugnant “to the general rights of Nations [and] to the true principles of liberty.” Thomas Jefferson, who unlike Hamilton strongly sympathized with the French Revolution, nevertheless acknowledged that “the French have been guilty of great errors in their conduct toward other nations, not only in insulting uselessly all crowned heads, but endeavoring to force liberty on their neighbors in their own form.” Much as Hamilton and Jefferson differed in their assignment of guilt to the warring parties, both of them made their normative assessments of the European war in terms that emphasized the illegitimacy of war for the purpose of propagating changes of government in other countries.

The self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence did not justify the proposition that foreign states had any right to revolutionize another political order, even a tyrannical one. Jefferson also regarded it as a self-evident truth that all nations had the right to determine for themselves the form of government they would adopt. The United States, he wrote, “surely cannot deny to any nation that right whereon our own government is founded–that every one may govern itself according to whatever form it pleases, and change these forms at its own will; and that it may transact its business with foreign nations through whatever organ it thinks proper.” Such was the settled doctrine of 19th-century America. “Among the acknowledged rights of nations”, as Daniel Webster noted, is that of “establishing that form of government which it may deem most conducive to the happiness and prosperity of its own citizens, of changing that form as circumstances may require, and of managing its internal affairs according to its own will. The people of the United States claim this right for themselves, and they readily concede it to others.” Americans, Webster noted, may “sympathize with the unfortunate or the oppressed everywhere in their struggles for freedom”, but their imperative duty was to neither revolutionize nor “interfere in the government or internal policy of other nations.”

The idea that the principles underlying the American regime might have universal applicability is as old as the Founding, yet this belief existed happily alongside the idea that the United States had neither a right nor a duty to bring others to an appreciation of these truths through force. Rather than being contradictory, these ideas originated in the same school of thought. Like religious intolerance, the denial of legitimacy to other forms of government was seen to cause perpetual war, making for an international environment hostile to the spread of free institutions. Underlying this outlook was a profound conviction that force had a logic ultimately inimical to liberty. Early Americans saw a historical dynamic at work by which force begot the expansion of executive power, inevitably hostile to liberty. It had been the ruin of free states, producing Caesars, Cromwells and Bonapartes. It was, as Madison held, “the true nurse of executive aggrandizement.” Madison’s conviction that no nation could preserve its liberty in the midst of continual warfare lay behind his view that a central purpose of America was to seek “by appeals to reason and by its liberal examples to infuse into the law which governs the civilized world a spirit which may diminish the frequency or circumscribe the calamities of war, and meliorate the social and beneficent relations of peace.”

Alongside these self-denying ordinances prescribing a policy of non-intervention and non-entanglement was the belief that the American example would ultimately lead to the progressive expansion of free institutions across the world. Jefferson’s words in the declaration, wrote Abraham Lincoln, “gave liberty not alone to the people of this country, but hope to the world for all future time.” For Lincoln as for Jefferson, however, it was the American example rather than active intervention that was to be the agent of change. “Our true mission”, as Daniel Webster summarized the classic view, was “not to propagate our opinions or impose upon other countries our form of government by artifice or force, but to teach by example and show by our success, moderation and justice, the blessings of self-government and the advantages of free institutions.”

The idea that Bush embraced in his second Inaugural Address, though given isolated expression in moments of upheaval, was usually voiced as a form of satire, the reductio ad absurdum of an interventionist policy. We had “better proclaim ourselves the knights errant of liberty and organize at once a crusade against all despotic governments”, wrote John Tyler in 1852. “We should announce to all Nations our determination to advance with sword the doctrines of republicanism” and proclaim that “there is but one form of government upon earth which we will tolerate and that is a Republic.”

Woodrow Wilson’s presidency marked a departure from the classic doctrine in certain respects, but it is very doubtful that “Wilson would recognize George W. Bush as his natural successor”, as one historian has recently claimed.1 Though Wilson saw, and saw rightly, that the partnership of democratic nations would henceforth have to be a fundamental desideratum in U.S. foreign policy, his objective was not to overturn the rules traditionally governing the relations of states. The League of Nations he championed was based squarely on the need for the society of nations to devise defenses against aggression, rather than on the need to transcend the society altogether. The league contained no democratic entitlement, and Wilson’s concept of a world made safe for democracy did not mean that the world should be made wholly democratic. For Wilson, the preponderance of power the democratic coalition might achieve was to afford the basis for a progressive disarmament, not eternal U.S. military hegemony. His skepticism regarding military power and his affinity with Jefferson’s pacific system were reflected in his belief that economic sanctions and the power of public opinion would do the heavy lifting in the prevention of aggression–an idea a world apart from Bush’s readiness to make force the first rather than the last resort of American statecraft.

Even Wilson’s interventions in Latin America were far more limited in scope than is often alleged. His intervention against the Huerta government in Mexico was the only one that can plausibly be seen as having the promotion of democracy as its central purpose, and even that was pursued in very tentative fashion. When he sent troops to Vera Cruz in 1914 the announced reason was to avenge an insult to the American flag. Though it also had the purpose of stopping the flow of munitions to the Huerta government, Wilson was very uncomfortable with the position in which it placed him, and he got out as soon as he could. The main result of Wilson’s meddling in Mexico in 1913 and 1914 was not to convince him of the imperative of spreading democracy through force, but rather the reverse. “I hold it as a fundamental principle that every people has a right to determine its own form of government”, he declared in 1915. “If the Mexicans want to raise hell, let them raise hell. We have got nothing to do with it. It is their government, it is their hell.”

If the crusade for democracy embraced by Bush differs materially from that of its supposed avatar and progenitor–creating a gulf between Wilsonianism and neo-Wilsonianism about as gaping as that between conservatism and neoconservatism–it also differs sharply from the policy of containment that guided U.S. policy during most of the Cold War. The Truman Doctrine set forth a policy of containing the Soviet Union and other communist governments, not of overthrowing those governments. It pledged the United States to support free peoples resisting armed minorities or outside pressures, not peoples who had already lost their freedom.

Only with the Reagan Doctrine was the nation’s power openly and directly committed to extending freedom through force. Reagan sought to justify intervention in support of those rebelling against tyrannical–particularly Marxist-Leninist–governments. Based on the assumption that a democratic revolution was sweeping the world, the Reagan Doctrine asserted America’s moral responsibility for aiding popular insurgencies struggling against communist domination. Such support was deemed to express the vital security interests of the United States. Though characterized in the traditional language of self-defense, the doctrine went beyond defense in its claim of a right to overturn that part of the status quo regarded as illegitimate. Even more, it amounted to the assertion that the American government no longer believed in the reality of an international order that transcended the respective interests and moral claims of the two great adversaries in the Cold War.

Even setting aside attempted regime change in the Barbary War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, etc. , to see what nonsense it is to allege that the extension of American-style liberty is a deviation from what our ancestors did all you have to do is consider this obvious fact: there were 13 states at the Founding.