Tuesday, March 08, 2005

"Was Bush right after all?"

The UK's Independent asks the question. Signs are promising, it reports, but only time will tell.

My take is that President Bush stands apart from other current world leaders because he is a man of action, not reaction. Clinton was a caretaker president who squandered his political capital and the country's prosperity on "small ball" politics. To be sure, 9/11 was an action with what has turned out to be an even more forceful and opposite reaction. But instead of responding to events, President Bush is leading them. He may not be totally responsible for today's promising, liberating events in the Middle East. But one has to ask if his unprecedented push for a democratic Palestinian state, and his decision to invade Iraq which resulted in January's election were not the catalyst and did not create the climate for the rising democratization of the Middle East. His rhetoric in advance of freedom and his willingness to act in support of his words have led the way to events today. He is a leader changing history, not bending to it.

My first (and continuing reaction) after seeing the second tower come down on 9/11 was simple: "We need to find who did this, and we need to kill them -- we need to kill them all." It was clear there could be no negotiation with the people who planned and executed the plan to fly passenger planes into buildings to kill and destroy as much as possible. But it is impossible to kill them all. President Bush has arrived at the right policy. We need to destroy the climate the fosters terrorism: repressive totalitarian regimes that foster fear and hatred of an external enemy. Democracies don't start wars. Democracies don't foster terrorism. So the two-pronged approach is just right: kill the terrorists, give freedom back to the people, let them vote their own destiny, and terrorists will become marginalized criminals rather than a force to shake the earth.

Having just written that line, it occurs to me that the WMD issue is still the force multiplier. Even though no WMD stockpiles have been found in Iraq (how long did futile well-intentioned diplomacy provide Saddam an exit strategy? Too long. And his WMDs, like his Baathist cronies, may yet turn up in Syria), the threat of WMDs falling into the hands of beheaders like al Zarqawi is the greatest risk of our time. It therefore deserves all the effort wse can muster to prevent it happening. That's why our efforts related to Iran's nuclear program are so important. Because of our failed agreement with North Korea, our options are more limited there (although, if freedom and democracy are possible in the Middle East, why not in North Korea?).

The world is still a very dangerous place. But events of the past weeks reflect positively on determined leadership and the inborn desire of people everywhere to live free. Increasingly desperate terrorists will try to push the psychological wave back as forcefully as possible. Even though the Independent suggests the invasion of Iraq may have been based on a collosal fraud, the irony is that the risk posed by Iraq's WMDs is perhaps greater than before the invasion because it is a risk that has not yet been contained.


Blogger Over50 said...

Hey guy, play risk or civilization some day. Then think, the people who play Bush every day can run circles around the best risk or civ3 player ur can come up with. And they played u 2. And they squandered Bush's political capital in the process. The only reason we invaded iraq was geopolitics and military capacity, i.e., we were sure that we would win. The WMD and terrorist stuff, well, that was for the ignorant masses, bud. The democracy stuff, well, that was a nice idea, but when i spell "petroleum" i can't seem to get it to read "democracy". If Bush actually understood the geopolitics, which i am not sure he did, then he chose to use whatever his pollsters found would scare the american people into agreeing to the war quickest, the truth being secondary. With this all being said, i am a true believer in hegemony, the need to use american military force to achieve it, and a long-term (100s of years if necessary) to stabilize (read, force it to work within what is broadly conceived as US best interests) the Mideast.

9:41 PM  

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