January 22, 2005


Bush Pulls 'Neocons' Out of the Shadows (Doyle McManus, January 22, 2005, LA Times)

In the unending struggle over American foreign policy that consumes much of official Washington, one side claimed a victory this week: the neoconservatives, that determined band of hawkish idealists who promoted the U.S. invasion of Iraq and now seek to bring democracy to the rest of the Middle East.

For more than a year, since the occupation of Iraq turned into the Bush administration's biggest headache, many of the "neocons" have lowered their profiles and muted their rhetoric. During President Bush's reelection campaign, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, one of the leading voices for invading Iraq, virtually disappeared from public view.

But on Thursday, Bush proclaimed in his inaugural address that the central purpose of his second term would be the promotion of democracy "in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world" — a key neoconservative goal. Suddenly, the neocons were ascendant again.

"This is real neoconservatism," said Robert Kagan, a foreign policy scholar who has been a leading exponent of neocon thinking — and who sometimes has criticized the administration for not being neocon enough. "It would be hard to express it more clearly. If people were expecting Bush to rein in his ambitions and enthusiasms after the first term, they are discovering that they were wrong."

On the other side of the Republican foreign policy divide, a leading "realist" — an exponent of the view that promoting democracy is nice, but not the central goal of U.S. foreign policy — agreed.

"If Bush means it literally, then it means we have an extremist in the White House," said Dimitri Simes, president of the Nixon Center, a conservative think tank that reveres the less idealistic policies of Richard Nixon. "I hope and pray that he didn't mean it … [and] that it was merely an inspirational speech, not practical guidance for the conduct of foreign policy."

Except that it is the theos and not the neos who believe that:
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, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission 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.

So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

And have since the Founding.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 22, 2005 9:16 AM

And of course, the President's plans are the best hope of peace. This is the mystery of deterence: to work, deterrence must be credible. If your adversary may think that you won't fight because, well, you just won't, then fight you shall. WWIII was won by Dr. Strangelove.

It never stops being a mystery, because you really must be ready, both materially and spiritually, to fight. It doesn't work if it's only a bluff. You have to take off your steering wheel and wave it out the window--the other guy is going to turn, because you won't.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 22, 2005 9:42 AM

The Nixon Center? Maybe we should try for detente with the Islamofascists? God save us. (oops, did I mention GOd, no one tell Peggy Noonan!)

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at January 22, 2005 11:54 AM