Hanson Grand Slam

Thursday, March 17th, 2005 10:59 am by Neal

Victor Davis Hanson, military historian extraordinaire, has consistently been ahead of the intellectual curve on Iraq and President Bush’s policies in the Middle East. But in this essay, Democracy Is Now the Realistic Policy in The American Enterprise, he hits a Grand Slam.

He starts with the controversial quote from Bush’s second Inaugural about how the US will stand with those peoples who stand for liberty and adds,

The foreign policy Realists want nothing to do with George Bush’s idealism. They rely exclusively on deterrence and balance of power to adjudicate relations abroad: We must deal with the world as it is, they say, rather than as we think it should be. Isolationists likewise bristle at the idea of expending blood or treasure in an open-ended commitment to spread our values. And don’t expect liberals to applaud the new idealism, as if their 1960s vision of an ethical foreign policy has at last arrived. The Left’s attachment to “multiculturalism” long ago ended the idea that the U.S. had any right to place Western ideas of politics over indigenous practices. Other “progressives” are de facto pacifists; for them, any use of U.S. force is a betrayal of global diplomacy.

The knee-jerk reaction of many opposed to our action in Iraq has been, “We cozied up to him in the first place. We gave him the WMD’s, blah, blah, blah.” To those who think the sins of previous administrations somehow indict the Bush reforms, I ask, “What say you now?” Bucking over 50 years of foreign policy, Bush is standing by our founding principles. As Hanson puts it:

The previous “realpolitik,” when the United States cozied up to some unsavory authoritarians in order to thwart Soviet hegemony, is at an end. Franco, the Shah, Pinochet, Somoza, Papa Doc, and others were artifacts of the Cold War, when the aberrant condition of 7,000 nuclear missiles pointed at our cities reduced and warped our options. If it was once hypocritical for the land of Jefferson and Madison to support dictators, then it is surely right to walk away from those earlier wrongs now that the Sword of Damocles has been removed.

Can you get past your hatred of Bush to admit that his doctine is the “revolution” you’ve so long idealized? Can you admit that standing up for the principles of democracy everywhere is not only consistent with our own principles but is pragmatic? Again, hear Hanson:

And in today’s Middle East, our new insistence on democracy is not our first but rather our last resort. We have already tried averting our eyes, subsidies, passive-aggressive lectures, outright hostility, everything but principled and consistent promotion of constitutional government. Despite varying degrees of American appeasement, monarchy, Baathism, Nasserism, pan-Arabism, and Islamic fundamentalism have all turned out to have intolerable spillover effects on the U.S. In contrast, the Muslims of democratic Indonesia, India, and Turkey do not threaten us.

Far from being impractical, naive, or dangerous, explaining to the world that America will from now on always encourage democratic rule is sober and in our own vital interest. With patience and persistence, it will turn out to be both the right and the smart thing to do.

Cheer up, naysayers. We won’t hold it against you that you couldn’t comprehend this noble and historic mission. It’s not too late to get on board.

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