To put this in perspective, I voted for George W. Bush twice. Given an alternative similar to those presented in 2000 and 2004 I would do so again in a heartbeat. During the past campaign, I wrote many articles supporting the President’s reelection and highlighting the obvious shortcomings of the junior senator from my home state.
I can think of any number of situations where America would be fully justified in the application of force. I also believe we are in the midst of a world war against a foe which is every bit as toxic as fascism or communism.
I remain convinced that the United States was right to go into Iraq in 2003 to remove Saddam Hussein–whether or not weapons of mass destruction are ever found. (Whether America should still be in Iraq, almost two years and more than 1,400 American lives latter, is another matter.) I believe our intervention in Afghanistan was equally justified.
Is it America’s role in the world to liberate the oppressed? Does tyranny always endanger our security? Does democracy foster peace? Does despotism invariably lead to cross-borders conflict?
The theme of Mr. Bush’s Second Inaugural Address was unexpected. It was assumed the President would take the opportunity to defend his policy in Iraq and in the war on terrorism generally. Instead he offered a vision of breathtaking scope — an American mission for the new century.
In the course of his address, the President said the following:
“We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.”
Really? In 1787, did our liberty depend on the success of liberty in other lands? But 218 years ago we were alone in raising the standard of popular sovereignty. Still, our republic prospered. American liberty survived World War II. However, a case could be made that by the end of that decade there was less liberty abroad than before (especially with the Soviet conquest of Eastern Europe and the triumph of Maoism in China). In and of itself, did this regression make America less secure?
The President also observed: “America’s vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights and dignity, and matchless value â€¦ . Advancing these ideals is the mission [there's that word again] that created our nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation’s security, and the calling of our time.”
Silly me, I always thought the honorable achievement of the Founders was throwing off the yoke of a capricious monarchy and giving America a constitutional government with civil liberties and limits on state power–not launching America on an international crusade for human dignity and a recognition of the “matchless value” of every individual. ~Don Feder
It has been striking how many people who did not cavil or hesitate to endorse the unprovoked invasion of another country in complete breach of our national traditions now falter in their near-lockstep conformity when it comes to the absurd ideological assumptions that now supposedly inform and motivate administration policy because…they are in complete breach of our national traditions.
Mr. Feder goes on to explain how democracy can be very dangerous and create all sorts of monsters, and even makes this unlikely statement: “There’s only one legitimate basis for American military intervention — a clear and present danger to the United States. Charity begins at home, as the saying goes. Blood should not be shed over abstractions.” Fascinating. Has Mr. Feder been reading “isolationist” magazines lately? This from someone who had just said that invading Iraq will have been justified whether or not any WMD–purportedly that most dire threat to the United States that allowed no delay–are ever found. What exactly were we fighting for, if there prove to be no weapons (as, indeed, any remotely objective person must by now admit was the case)? It certainly wasn’t something grounded in reality, and there was certainly a lot of loose talk about “liberation” justifying the war anyway among all of the pro-war pundits.
Mr. Feder is free, of course, to dissent from the administration’s justifications for its unjustifiable war, provided he endorsed the war for some other now-discredited reasons, or he could admit that he has since changed his mind about the advisability of spreading democracy far and wide. But we can find, without much effort, that Mr. Feder is only too happy to ride on the militant democracy bandwagon, provided that his pet anti-China issue can be incorporated into the cause. For instance, he wrote on September 28, 2004 in that lair of neocon untruth, FrontPageMag.com: “America’s interest in cultivating democracy, defending human rights and supporting self-determination should not be limited to the Moslem world. While saving the world from terrorism, it would be the height of folly to ignore another totalitarian threat â€“ one that treats the free people of a democratic state as its subjects, to be disposed of as it chooses.” There is nothing in Mr. Bush’s inaugural that is substantially different from this–it is only the militancy, the insistence on global revolution and its imperative connection to our security that mark Mr. Bush’s view as a more extreme variant of the same, hackneyed democratism. What does Mr. Feder propose himself? He proposes that we seek to apply this admittedly dangerous policy to China, one of the great powers of the world! And he has the nerve to later criticise Mr. Bush for his excesses!
Again on Oct. 20, in an otherwise sensible column pointing out the warmongering of Democratic leftism, he whines: “Whatever the shortcomings of President Bush’s plans for Iraq, at least he’s trying to bring democracy to a nation that’s never known it before.” Why was this a virtue in October and suddenly a frightening and excessive thing today?
Surely the democratist extremism of the president was no secret to Mr. Feder five months ago–this is a man, after all, who refers to freedom (and democracy, which for him is just an extension of the former) as God’s gift to mankind. It is but a small step to the bizarre inaugural speech from there. Granted, the president is an illiterate when it comes to the finer points of political philosophy, but then so are most neocons, for whom democracy and freedom are synonymous as well.
Mr. Feder did not lament a foreign policy based on abstractions when Mr. Bush said the following in the Oct. 13 presidental debate: ” I believe that God wants everybody to be free — that’s what I believe, and that’s one part of my foreign policy. In Afghanistan, I believe that the freedom there is a gift from the almighty, and I cannot tell you how encouraged I am to see freedom on the march. So, my principles that I make decisions on are a part of me and religion is a part of me.” Is it all right when this lunacy is just “one part” of the foreign policy and not the uppermost priority?
Compare this to Mr. Feder’s entirely predictable raft of despicable, extreme Zionist and neocon positions, including this particularly disgusting attack on Pat Buchanan (who else?), and this sudden distaste for democratic crusading is most unbecoming. We can see the process of a neocon losing his zeal for the lunatic Wilsonianism of the messianic president, who has simply taken the preposterous enthusiasm for democracy shown by neocons down through the years to its logical conclusion. If blood is now being shed for abstractions in Iraq, it is because men such as Don Feder and his associates urged such a course of action and provided it with ideological support.
What would be perhaps rather painful for Mr. Feder to admit is that the “isolationists” whom he loves to denounce have been proven right for being rightly skeptical about the enthusiasms and utopianism of this administration and that it has indeed placed ideological imperatives and abstractions ahead of American security and American traditions. If Mr. Feder’s newfound concern to put that security ahead of meaningless ideological goals is sincere, then we “isolationists” welcome him, though he will have to grant that applying that term to us was his choice and bore no relation to what we really believed.