1/23/2005|||110656294734169916||||||KAGAN ON THE BIG SPEECH
Another must-read from Robert Kagan. [This post briefly AWOL - or perhaps I should
say AOL - due to a software glitch.]:
This is where Bush may lose the support of most old-fashioned conservatives. His goals are now the antithesis of conservatism. They are revolutionary. But of course -- and this is what American conservatives have generally been loath to admit --
|||Clive|||http://clivedavis.blogspot.com/2005/01/kagan-on-big-speech-another-must-read.html|||1/23/2005 01:27:00 pm|||||||||
Bush's goals are also deeply American, for the United States is a revolutionary power. Bush has found his way back to the core, universalist principles that have
usually shaped American foreign policy, regardless of the nature of the threat.
"The great struggle of the epoch [is] between liberty and despotism," James
Madison asserted in 1823, and Americans from the founders onward have viewed the world in terms of that struggle.
Many will take a cynical view of Bush's latest pronouncements, and cynicism is an
understandable response. Truman's 1947 declaration that "It must be the policy
of the United States to support free peoples" was soon followed by close
ties with Spain's fascist dictator, Francisco Franco. Kennedy's inaugural pledge to "pay any price, bear any burden . . . to assure the survival and the success of liberty" did not keep him from supporting friendly dictators in Latin America. And when Reagan announced a "global campaign for freedom" in 1982, he had the Soviet bloc in mind, not Ferdinand Marcos, Augusto Pinochet or the military junta in South Korea.
But presidential rhetoric has consequences. Contrary to his initial instincts, Reagan wound up pulling the rug out from under those friendly dictators, propelled by his own publicly stated democratic principles. Bush may be thinking about Iran and some Arab dictatorships, not China. But the next time China locks up a dissident,
or Vladimir Putin further curtails Russian freedoms, people will remind Bush
about his promise that "America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains."
...The fight against terrorists must still remain the overriding focus of American
national security efforts, because the price of failing to stop future terrorist attacks is unacceptably high. But the war on terrorism was never a sufficient paradigm for American foreign policy. It was too narrow, too limited and less than ideal for mustering the support of others around the world. Conservatives and realists in America and nervous Europeans will recoil at Bush's new boldness. But the pragmatic virtue of basing American foreign policy on the timeless principles of the Declaration of Independence is that they do reflect universal aspirations. Such a policy may attract wider support abroad than the war on terrorism has and a more durable support at home for an internationalist foreign policy.
That is the higher realism that Bush now proclaims.