Sunday, January 23, 2005

Giving Bush the Benefit of the Doubt

In the spirit of VOR’s New Year’s Resolutions (see the post for Jan. 2nd) I call on all those who oppose President Bush to temper your criticism of his foreign policy for the time being and allow him a chance to manifest the lofty ideals he set forth in his inaugural address. Let’s face it, if it had been Kerry making this grandiose and Wilsonian speech members of the Left would have been gushing praise on the Democratic president-elect. And well they should have; the majority of what Bush laid out in his call for supporting freedom and ending tyranny throughout the world is almost verbatim what thinkers on the Left have been urging for the past 50 years.

Back in 1953 it was the Left that criticized the CIA’s overthrow of Iran’s democratically-elected leader, Mossadegh, and in 1973 condemned the overthrow of Chile’s Salvador Allende, which the U.S. actively supported. The Left helped to usher in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s, which formally ended centuries of domestic terrorism against American blacks, was at the forefront of bringing to an end Reagan’s support of Nicaraguan terrorists in the 1980’s (due in no small part to John Kerry’s tireless investigations), and worked to bring about the collapse of the Apartheid regime in South Africa (which both Reagan and vice-president Cheney strongly supported even in the face of growing international criticism).

Now that Bush has formally acknowledged that the Left has been right all along, I ask Bush detractors to put aside their skepticism regarding the sincerity of Bush’s commitment to spreading democracy. Yes, Bush is a man who spent 95% of his life shunning foreign affairs and based his 2000 presidential campaign on an extreme isolationist platform, even strongly criticizing the Clinton administration for intervening in Kosovo in order to depose a tyrant and spread democracy, but let’s give the man a chance. September 11th may not have changed everything in America but it did change everything in Bush’s view of the world. Even though Bush’s newfound “calling” represents one of the greatest “flip-flops” in all of U.S. political history, instead of criticizing him let’s hold him to the standards he has set for U.S. conduct in the world.

Increased pressure on Saudi Arabia and Egypt, two of our closest allies who happen to have abysmal human rights records, sounds like a good place to start. And how about increased pressure to raise labor standards with our biggest trading partner, China. While were at it we should also call Putin (who has a good soul according to Bush) and ask him why he is helping Russia to back-pedal towards dictatorship. Some changes should probably also be made in our interrogation policy since the world’s foremost democracy peddler shouldn’t be torturing people. Certainly, let’s make sure not to forget to include assistance to Afghanistan in this year’s federal budget.



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