Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Norman Podhoretz "Whither the Bush Doctrine"

Check out the link - shows you what the real "neoconservative" movement thinks about all this. Please recall - Podhoretz, Irving Kristol - founders of commentary are the founders of this movement.


At 7:40 PM, Blogger Taxbeaner said...

I have postponed responding to this because the arguments in the article are so frail that it is difficult determining where to start. I choose to address the "second pillar".

"Bush gave the lie to those who would later claim that the idea of planting the seeds of democracy in Iraq was a hastily contrived ex-post-facto rationalization to cover for the failure to find weapons of mass destruction there. Indeed, the plain truth is that, far from being an afterthought, the idea of democratization was there from the very beginning and could even be said to represent the animating or foundational principle of the entire doctrine:

The advance of human freedom, the great achievement of our time and the great hope of every time, now depends on us. Our nation, this generation, . . . will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage.

The second pillar on which the Bush Doctrine stood was a new conception of terrorism that would, along with the “mission” emerging out of the rubble of 9/11, serve as a further justification for going first into Afghanistan and then into Iraq. Under the old understanding, terrorists were lone individuals who could best be dealt with by the criminal-justice system. Bush, by dramatic contrast, now asserted that they should be regarded as the irregular troops of the nation states that harbored and supported them. From this it followed that 9/11 constituted a declaration of war on the United States, and that the proper response was to rely not on cops and lawyers and judges but on soldiers and sailors and marines.

Again giving the lie to those who would later accuse him of misleading the American people as to why he had led us into Iraq, the President said that

Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them. Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated."

First, he did not say, "We will ram democracy down the throat of any country we damn well feel like, and if the rest of the world doesn't like it, tough!" However, this is his policy in practice. The world has not rallied to his cause (not my cause or our cause).

Second, Iraq was not a hotbed of terrorism and, if that was really his justification for attacking there, why didn't he say so when he was trying to sell it? A vague generalization about "the advance of human freedom" is not quite the clear and compelling case needed before going to war.

Third, his statement about finding, stopping, and defeating every terrorist group of global reach is so naive that it would rate a well-deserved F in an Intro Poly Sci class. Terrorism is by definition an -ism. It is not a finite species of something that can be made extinct by military or any other force. As long as there is a group that feels sufficiently oppressed and, at the same time, knows that it would lose a conventional war because it has no technology, there will be a recourse to terrorism. Defeating terrorism is like playing whack-a-mole. New groups will always be popping up. They will have different tactics and organizational structures. No president in my lifetime has done a better job of recruiting new terrorists than George W Bush. For that alone, he should be tried as a terrorist himself. What that statement of his translates to is, "We will be at war constantly throughout your life, your childrens' lives, your great-grandchildrens' lives or until we run out of resources and become the third world nation we so long to be."

The neo-conservative world view is busted beyond repair. Podhoretz should request that his writings be filed under fiction, since that's where they belong.


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