Sunday, October 30, 2005
Libby Indictment is Amazingly Small in the Bush Scope of Things
Not small for Scooter Libby, assuredlybut the Bush foreign policy is probably the most satisfactory for American interests since the formation of NATO in 1949. Remember that our decision to commit ourselves to stabilize western Europe was hotly debated in this country, with Robert Taft, Joseph P. Kennedy and Herbert Hoover strongly opposed. That decision made by President Truman and the Congress was truly the launching pad for American involvement in foreign affairs: not our joining the war nor founding of the UN. With NATO we were fully committed to the leadership role in preserving peace. It began a series of actions that led to the downfall of Communism. (Unfortunately, the Truman administrations fallacious policies in the Far East are with us yet).
What George W. Bush has done is phenomenal. Consider that every war in the 20th century was one which we sought to remain free of. Wilson pledged to keep us out of war when he ran for reelection in 1916, Roosevelt the same with World War II in 1940, Acheson had maintained that Korea was outside our defense perimeter in 1949, Eisenhower vetoed Nixons plea to get involved in Vietnam to help the French. April Glasby, our Iraq ambassador promised to Saddam Hussein that we would not get involved. The agonizing appraisal of whether or not to go to war was justified: in 1916, 1940, 1949 and in 1965 and we came to the right conclusion (whether or not we carried through is another issue). But on 9/11 Osama bin Laden did what others feared to do: waged an attack on the continental United States. Thereupon, Bush was the first to recognize that in contradistinction to these wars where we got involved as a reaction, the 9/11 attack on New York meant we must unilaterally, if needed, strike to detect and intercept plots before they are carried out. In a better world than we have, a United Nations would confront world threats before they arise, but that is not to be.
But Bush is not the imperialist as some paleo conservatives and liberals allege: using the theory outlined in the book The Pentagons New Map, he has determined that we should seek to build democracies in the Middle East on the proven theory that democracies are less likely to go to war than are dictatorships. He started with Taliban-ruled Afghanistan which was protecting al-Qaedo terrorists. Within three years the first free elections were held. Then the military campaign against Saddam was conducted. To those who decry the mission has not yet been accomplished, recall that Baathist fascists have formed an insurgency which now is being overcome with free elections and a Constitution: remarkable progress with Iraqis willing to take the gamble for freedom while in threat of being murdered. Eight million turned out for a free election. The Sunnis are now in the process of working politically so as to play a role in the new Iraq. This was accomplished by a spilling of American blood, yes but let it be realized at a phenomenally low cost (though I, as a father of four and grandfather of 13, must acknowledge that one dearth is too many). I have no doubt that this extraordinarily self-confident president will not yield to public and media pressure. Even as I say this I have a major concern.
The concern is not that he will yield but with, strangely you might feel, the Democratic party. To achieve these gains we have gotten by with a Republican president and a Republican Congress. The great Democratic party which I have been accustomed to supporting in selective ways since I began voting, is bereft of any semblance of the Harry Truman-Henry (Scoop) Jackson-Hubert Humphrey strain that animated it when my own party was wallowing in isolationism and when it was sending forth candidates not as skilled as requisite to remove the Democrats from office. Of course I worry about the quality of people to come after Bush in my own party but I absolutely tremble when I consider that the next president could well be a John Kerry (who voted for a measure before he voted against it), Hillary Clinton and types like them with the only saving grace to come from a Mark Warner (the governor of Virginia). The fact that the Democratic party is being run by Howard Dean and others gives me great dread.
When you consider what Bush has accomplished and the very real chance that he could be succeeded by one who could give the game away, it is a sober prospect with which to begin on this bright Sunday morning.