Saturday, June 09, 2007

Changing the World

Far from being a tool of Halliburton or the oil companies, President Bush is truly trying to change the world by promoting democracy. While in some sense idealistic, it is driven by raw national interest. The national interest is in defanging the appeal of Islamo-fascism in an age when weapons of mass destruction are no longer restricted to major powers. They are potentially available even to small groups influenced by Islamo-fascism. President Bush believes that freedom and rule of law will allow people in the Islamic world to control their own destinies without wrecking ours.

Read his speech in Prague:

The most powerful weapon in the struggle against extremism is not bullets or bombs -- it is the universal appeal of freedom. Freedom is the design of our Maker, and the longing of every soul. Freedom is the best way to unleash the creativity and economic potential of a nation. Freedom is the only ordering of a society that leads to justice. And human freedom is the only way to achieve human rights.

Expanding freedom is more than a moral imperative -- it is the only realistic way to protect our people in the long run. Years ago, Andrei Sakharov warned that a country that does not respect the rights of its own people will not respond to the rights of its neighbors. History proves him right. Governments accountable to their people do not attack each other. Democracies address problems through the political process, instead of blaming outside scapegoats. Young people who can disagree openly with their leaders are less likely to adopt violent ideologies. And nations that commit to freedom for their people will not support extremists -- they will join in defeating them.

For all these reasons, the United States is committed to the advance of freedom and democracy as the great alternatives to repression and radicalism. (Applause.) And we have a historic objective in view. In my second inaugural address, I pledged America to the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world. Some have said that qualifies me as a "dissident president." If standing for liberty in the world makes me a dissident, I wear that title with pride. (Applause.)

America pursues our freedom agenda in many ways -- some vocal and visible, others quiet and hidden from view. Ending tyranny requires support for the forces of conscience that undermine repressive societies from within. The Soviet dissident Andrei Amalrik compared a tyrannical state to a soldier who constantly points a gun at his enemy -- until his arms finally tire and the prisoner escapes. The role of the free world is to put pressure on the arms of the world's tyrants -- and strengthen the prisoners who are trying to speed their collapse.

This author compares President Bush to President Wilson in their idealism:

Today, as then, Bush's freedom agenda for the Muslim world is under attack from all quarters as the US shifts noticeably into a comparable isolationist mode. Conservatives concerned about preserving the America's cultural identity are pushing for an end to illegal immigration from Mexico. The Democrats, in concert with former secretary of state James Baker's considerable camp of followers in the Republican Party and the State Department, are advocating an end of US support for its allies and supporters in Iraq, Israel and Lebanon in favor of an embrace of US enemies Iran and Syria.

Glick doesn't see Bush as committed to the agenda as Wilson was, but she does see the threat of isolationism stemming from domestic opposition to each president:

Historical hindsight has judged the feckless appeasement and irresponsible isolationism of the 1920s and 1930s responsible for the catastrophe of World War II. Bush's doctrine of war and peace was aimed at preventing just such a reenactment of history.

As Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proclaims that the countdown to the next Holocaust has begun while actively waging war against the US and its allies on all available fronts, the catastrophe that will follow an American relapse into isolationism and appeasement is undeniable.

As I wrote before, I truly believe that the title of George the Liberator is quite likely to be bestowed on our president:

Our victory in Iraq will change the rules in a region still frozen in the Cold War era standards of strongmen who rule without regard to their people or their well being. When the history of the Middle East in this era is written, President Bush may well be known as George the Liberator.

Of course, like the war to end all wars, our war to end Islamo-fascist terrorism could founder in the face of domestic opposition and an Islamist ideology too entrenched to be rooted out before we lose our determination to fight this war.

But it can hardly be denied that this is an essentially idealistic aim that the President is attempting to lead us to achieve. From the President's speech:

People living in tyranny need to know they are not forgotten. North Koreans live in a closed society where dissent is brutally suppressed, and they are cut off from their brothers and sisters to the south. The Iranians are a great people who deserve to chart their own future, but they are denied their liberty by a handful of extremists whose pursuit of nuclear weapons prevents their country from taking its rightful place amongst the thriving. The Cubans are desperate for freedom -- and as that nation enters a period of transition, we must insist on free elections and free speech and free assembly. (Applause.) And in Sudan, freedom is denied and basic human rights are violated by a government that pursues genocide against its own citizens. My message to all those who suffer under tyranny is this: We will never excuse your oppressors. We will always stand for your freedom. (Applause.)
Yet the President's opponents are the ones called "progressive." Go figure.