The Bush Aberration(Reprinted from the issue of August 3, 2006)
Not since the 1968 Tet offensive has the news made me feel so confused and dispirited. Its easier to say what should have been done or not done than what should be done now.
The Founders of the American Republic counseled us to maintain neutrality, now disparaged as isolationism, in foreign broils. It wasnt that they thought all foreign powers were wrong; just the opposite.
Every state might have plausible reasons for making war, but that was exactly the problem. Their reasons, however appealing, need not be our reasons; and it was unlikely that their interests should often coincide with ours. Let them fight without us!
But since the days of Woodrow Wilson we have been taught that it is both our interest and our duty to side with democracies abroad. In any conflict, the democratic side must be right; for, as Condoleezza Rice keeps reminding us, Democracies dont start wars. If you believe that a priori, everything is immediately simplified. Israel is a democracy, so in its latest war we must take Israels side.
But having abandoned neutrality, the United States is in no position to broker the diplomatic settlement Rice hopes to negotiate. Both the Bush administration and Congress have quickly expressed their support for the violent Israeli assault on Lebanon, which Hezbollah has made its base for rocket attacks on Israeli cities.
Most of the world agrees that the Israeli assault is wildly excessive, but the Israelis argue that under international law Lebanon, by failing to control Hezbollah, has become responsible for those rockets and for any innocent carnage resulting from measures the Israelis deem necessary for their defense. So, as a democracy defending itself, Israel becomes Americas dog in this fight.
And once again the United States finds itself entangled and ineffectual in the most violent region on earth. Not only that, but the world holds America largely responsible for a bitter conflict we all deplore. O for the placid era of Yitzhak Shamir and Yassir Arafat!
To be sure, Hezbollah is supported by Iran, which may well have instigated the latest trouble to deflect attention from its nuclear program. But was this unforeseeable? Did the administration think the Iranians were just going to sit still and endure more American scoldings for their misbehavior?
Never assume that your enemies are without resource. Iran is too big and too cunning to be bullied.
Im always wary of the Israelis, but that doesnt mean I trust their enemies, and for some days, remembering how we reacted to the 9/11 attacks, I was willing to give Israel the benefit of a doubt, as far as their own safety was concerned.
By the same token, though, I didnt expect them to consider whether their actions were beneficial to us. Right or wrong, their fight is not ours. We have more than enough enemies now, and fewer allies than ever. Never was prudence more urgent, or less in evidence.
Maybe there is no justice in this world, but there is certainly hubris, and there is its usual reward, Nemesis.
As William Schwenck Gilbert once complained to the president of a railroad, Sir: Sunday morning, though recurring at frequent and well-established intervals, always seems to take this railway by surprise.
In the same way, Nemesis always seems to take this country by surprise.
So here we go again. We intervene on the other side of the world, where the only thing worse than war is peace, and we are shocked to find things beyond our control.
And having installed a brand-new democracy in Iraq, we are unpleasantly taken aback when Nouri al-Maliki, the brand-new prime minister of our brand-new ally, condemns the Israeli action during his first official visit to Washington.
We wanted Iraq to be independent, but perhaps not quite that independent. When he addressed Congress, several congressmen boycotted his speech.
This put President Bush in yet another awkward situation (he must be getting used to them), and Maliki quickly got the word to tone it down.
Only Rush Limbaugh still thinks the Iraq war is going well; even other conservatives are deserting Bush now. Bill Buckley has opined that Bush is no conservative and that his disastrous failure in Iraq, were he a European prime minister, would have compelled his resignation.
Surely the Republics Founders would be astonished to find their country so impossibly mired in the Muslim world, to say nothing of its fantastic debt and semi-socialist economy.
Less than halfway through his second term, Bush seems intent on completing Americas ruin. Not that he has done it alone, but its hard to imagine how a single man could have done more to aggravate the damage he inherited.
To say that Bush has failed as a president is to understate the matter. He has booby-trapped the presidency for his successors. How can they hope to repair what he has wrought? Even without war and military spending, his new Medicare entitlements cant be paid for by marginal tax cuts; barring a miracle, they ensure generations of spiraling debt.
If the immediate future looks bleak, the long-range future looks even worse.
Grim as the prospect of Democratic rule may be, it seems probable that the Republicans political hegemony is finished. Seldom if ever has a party wasted its assets as rapidly as the GOP has since 2004, or lost the aura of invincibility so suddenly. If the Democrats can reverse their fortunes in this falls elections, even another impeachment is possible.
As long as Im spreading good cheer, allow me to suggest a silver lining. Party loyalty neednt mean following your leader over a cliff. Bush is so completely discredited that I see only one way for the Republicans to recoup: by repudiating him the way the Democrats disowned Lyndon Johnson by nominating George McGovern in 1972. Pretend he never happened.
Once the Republicans make it clear that they agree that George W. Bush was an aberration, they can begin to recover. This may mean enduring a period of Democratic dominance, but the Democrats themselves will see to it that this doesnt last long if the voters have an alternative.
I once predicted that Republicans would eventually urge us to return to the conservative values of Bill Clinton. I just didnt expect it to happen quite so soon!
Nows your chance! Regime Change Begins at Home a new selection of my Confessions of a Reactionary Utopian is just off the presses. If you have not seen SOBRANS, my monthly newsletter, yet, give my office a call at 800-513-5053 and request a free sample, or better yet, subscribe for two years for just $85. New subscribers get a copy of Regime Change and one other gift with their subscription. More details can be found at the Subscription page of my website.
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|Copyright © 2006 by The Wanderer,
the National Catholic Weekly founded in 1867
Reprinted with permission
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