|Does our security require an international crusade for democracy?
By Don Feder
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
I remain convinced that the
This speech is not about
Instead, what I'd like to discuss with you this morning comes out of the President's Inaugural Address just two weeks ago. The Administration has been drifting in this direction for some time. Now, apparently, drift has become headlong rush.
The address raises a number of critical questions I'd like to explore with you today:
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
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
The President also observed: "
Silly me, I always thought the honorable achievement of the Founders was throwing off the yoke of a capricious monarchy and giving
The Preamble of the Constitution does not read: "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, engage in nation-building, punish tyrants, secure human rights and spread democracy to the furthest corners of the globe, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
Returning to the Inaugural Address, the President promised: "We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is always right.
These are noble sentiments, indeed. But like every administration before it -- and perhaps more than some -- this administration is highly selective in the application of its exalted doctrines.
While boldly proclaiming liberty and justice for all, we complacently do business with some of the worst tyrannies on earth.
The People's Republic of
The last U.S. President I recall speaking out for freedom in
There are Chinese who enjoy all of the rights Mr. Bush said it is
On a visit to the mainland in December, then Secretary of State Colin Powell said the goal on both sides of the Taiwan Straits should be the eventual reunification of democratic
And when was the last time this administration called for human rights in
Tell me, Mr. President, do Saudi women welcome their humiliation and servitude? If not, what are we doing about it? Is not advancing the ideals of rights and dignity the "calling of our time"?
Does the Government of Pakistan believe that "every man and woman on this earth has rights and dignity and matchless value?" Do the homicidal mullahs who dominate Pakistani society?
We went to
In November 2003, even the Government of Pakistan could no longer deny that Dr. A.Q. Khan, the father of the Pakistani bomb, had been involved in the massive transfer of nuclear technology and weapons designs to regimes which would love to start World War III, including those of Iran and North Korea (two legs of the President's Axis of Evil) -- all under the watchful eye of the Pakistani military.
In February 2004, after a pro forma apology, Dr. Khan was officially pardoned by
Like many of his predecessors, General Musharraf is a president in uniform who came to power in a 1999 coup. The Taliban regime, which ruled
Here, it would seem, is a prime candidate for a regime change. But, since the Administration believes we need
I could go on but I believe you get the point.
As a whole, the President's Second Inaugural Address was -- well, as Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan put it, "somewhere between dreamy and disturbing." Paul Weyrich, Chairman of the Free Congress Foundation and a founding father of the modern conservative movement, said the speech "seemed utopian." A commentator quipped that Mr. Bush gave the best speech Woodrow Wilson ever wrote.
The century of secret police, gulags and death camps that followed proved
Lest we forget, in that conflict we were allied with the greatest mass murderer of all time. In his 30-year reign, Stalin killed more people than Hitler. I'll tell you something else: Given the nature of the threat at that time we were absolutely right to be allied with the
What makes the Wilsonian worldview so perilous is that it encourages humanitarian interventions. If it's always in our interests to insist on democracy and oppose tyranny then why shouldn't we employ our overwhelming military might freely -- to achieve these happy ends?
But past humanitarian interventions have been anything but happy -- either for us or for the recipients of our benevolence. Think
In 1994, President Clinton deployed 20,000 Marines to
Aristide's restoration was followed by a decade of disputed elections, abolished legislatures, political stand-offs, violence and counter-violence.
The interim government that followed was par for the course. Since September an estimated 200 people have died in political violence and much of Port-au-Prince's business district is deserted. In the meantime
That's how well the most powerful country on earth brought democracy and freedom to a nation a few hundred miles off our shores.
The rationale for our intervention was to stop the so-called ethnic cleansing of Albanian Moslems by Christian Serbs. "Ethnic cleansing," a newly coined term, being somewhere between genocide and a change of address.
There were reputed to be mass graves in the province. Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, an ex-communist apparatchik, was described as a junior-league Himmler. We were told that violence in Kosovo would somehow spill over
For 78 days in the spring of 1999 we bombed
After the war, no mass grave was found. But if there wasn't ethnic cleansing before the bombing began there certainly was after it ended.
Exultant Albanians drove 277,000 Serbs from Kosovo, two-thirds of the pre-war Serbian population. Hundreds were killed and thousands brutalized. Albanian multiculturalists destroyed 135 Orthodox churches, monasteries and shrines -- all under the watchful eye of NATO and the
But damned if we didn't bring democracy to Kosovo, and that's what counts -- or does it? The province's democratically elected prime minister -- a KLA alumnus -- is under investigation by the International Criminal Tribunal for murdering 67 Serbs and ordering the deaths of 267 others between 1997 and 1999.
Ladies and gentlemen: Does our safety really lie in the global triumph of democracy? Hitler came to power through the democratic process. All over the world people regularly elect savages and sadists to office.
Are dictators without burning hatreds or territorial ambitions really a threat to our security? Unquestionably, the Shah of Iran was a tyrant with a vicious secret police -- but a tyrant who modernized his country, raised the status of women, served as a reliable ally and contributed to regional stability.
But Jimmy Carter -- who made human rights the cornerstone of his hapless foreign policy -- withdrew
The Palestinians had free elections a week ago. They endorsed the rule of Arafat's henchman, Mahmoud Abbas (a Holocaust denier) and elected a sizeable contingent of Hamas terrorists to their legislature. As a reward the President is asking Congress to bolster Palestinian "democracy" by contributing $350 million to this nation-building enterprise.
Does anyone outside
It wasn't his torture and murder of innocent Iraqis, or his autocratic rule, that made Saddam Hussein a threat to our security, but his territorial ambitions (he'd invaded two of his neighbors in the space of a decade -- in one case causing a war that resulted in one million casualties), his support for terrorists (he subsidized suicide bombers and operated terrorist training camps) and his maniacal pursuit of WMD technology.
Still, apparently, American security isn't a sufficient justification for the presence of 150,000
Personally, I hope the Iraqis get their democracy. I was pleased to hear that the Shiite majority doesn't want a religious state -- for the time being.
But what if they did? What if a clear majority of Iraqis voted in a government that instituted Islamic law at its most virulent? What if the Shiite majority decided to stick it to the Sunni minority and the Kurds? What if they decided that they wanted to provide material support for jihads in other lands -- including re-establishing training camps for holy warriors? What if the democratically elected government if
In all of these hypothetical situations, are we prepared to bow our heads and venerate popular sovereignty?
Anyone who believes it's impossible for a democracy to go off the deep end hasn't been paying attention to history.
Granted, representative governments generally don't start wars. (Neither do dictatorships, in most cases.) But democracies, by their abysmal governance, have given rise to warmongering, totalitarian states -- one thinks of the Kerensky Government in
There's only one legitimate basis for American military intervention -- a clear and present danger to the
The idea that our safety ultimately lies in the worldwide triumph of democracy is a dangerous illusion. While our military resources are strained to the breaking point fighting for popular sovereignty and human rights in the
These are questions that won't be discussed by knee-jerk isolationists or dyed-in-the-wool interventionists, who've substituted "isms" for analysis and clichés for facts. But they are questions that thoughtful Americans should be asking, regardless of their politics.
George W. Bush is a decent man. But a conservative he is not. Conservatives aren't utopians. Conservatives don't launch crusades. Conservatives know that human flaws make tragedy -- including tragedy on a national scale -- inevitable. Conservatives don't hold out the possibility of heaven on earth. Conservatives have limited ambitions -- protecting this nation's sovereignty, restoring representative government here and improving the human condition gradually.
An aside: I wish the President were less concerned with exporting democracy and more committed to countering the precipitous decline of democracy at home -- due to the rise of an imperial judiciary.
An international crusade for democracy and human rights?
For me, our sixth President, John Quincy Adams, a fellow
Don Feder is a former syndicated columnist. He is the President of Don Feder Associates, a media consulting firm. This essay is the text of a speech delivered at ruary 4, 200 5.
This essay is the text of a speech
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!
© 1996-2019, Enter Stage Right and/or its creators. All rights reserved.