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Kaplan on Bush and Democracy
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Well, hell must be freezing on the heels of the Der Spiegel editorial I linked to yesterday, there's this Was George Bush Right About Freedom and Democracy? from Slate liberal Fred Kaplan.

A question is haunting the blue states of America: Could George W. Bush be right? Is freedom indeed "on the march"? Did the war in Iraq uncork a white tornado that's whooshing democracy across the region and beyond?

"Haunting"? Yes, because the spread of democracy is to be avoided if it's the work of such a bumbling buffoon, right?

I like this, it's not a wave, Kaplan says:

It's a huge stretch to view these uprisings as a seamless wave of democracy; but it would go too far in the other direction to see them as strictly discrete events, each unrelated to the other. The evidence suggests that we're seeing at least a stream of wavelets;

Wavelets. Heh.

But Kaplan is introspective and does grudgingly give credit where credit is due:

Finally, while it's absurd to think that Bush set the upheavals of '05 in motion, it's churlish not to grant him any credit at all. If nothing else, it's an inspiring thing to see the United States standing on the side of national self-determination. It hasn't happened very often in the past 60 years, unless anticommunism was at stake. John Kerry would be commended for it if he were president; George W. Bush should be, too.

This is something I've said repeatedly. It is interesting to note that Bush foreign policy is incredibly liberal. Many conservatives are essentially isolationists. They want to hole ourselves up and build walls along the borders. Tucker Carlson on Bill Maher's show the other night said:

CARLSON: But spreading democracy? Do you really want your kids to die so other people can be free? I mean, other people’s freedoms are a good thing. Is it worth expending American lives, though, is the question. No. [applause]

Well, couldn't the same have been said of France in WWII? Do you really want your kids to die so other people can be free? Nah...fuck em. I love how 20 year-old marines are always invoked as "children" or "kids" in these sorts of statements, as if our armed forces were composed of infantile morons who were lured into service with a lollipop. They're adults, for fuck's is degrading to treat them otherwise.

But on the same show Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Democra from Ohio, also referred to our troops as "children". It's pretty upside down, actually. I think the hardcore conservatives are maintaining their isolationism, and some didn't support the war. The Bush loyalists support whatever he does because he's a Republican, mixed with the desire to kick ass after 9/11. And most Democrats reactionarily oppose whatever Bush does.

But the neocon plan for reshaping the Middle East is a very liberal doctrine, in that it wields huge governmental power and spends lots of money to shake up the status quo.

Anyway, back to Kaplan:

But Bush's partisans seem not to realize that we are witnessing, for the most part, the mere beginnings of a long, uncertain process. Elections mark the first step of a fledgling democracy, not its endpoint. Rallies can sire repressions. Freedom itself is a thin reed without the security, laws, and institutions to uphold it.

Well, I'm not a partisan, but I don't think most people who support Bush's foreign policy are thinking, "Hey! We're done!" Of course it's a beginning, and of course it's a long uncertain process. I don't think anyone's under the illusion that Iraq is a finished product. Most people who support the neocon agenda realize this is just the beginning.

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