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A Case of the Economic Shivers The Democrats' Drive-by Politics for 2006

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Is It Bush We Are Testing to Destruction?

by Christopher Chantrill
June 11, 2006 at 11:16 am

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THE GOOD THING about the reelection of President Bush in 2004, according to Matthew Parris this week in the London Times, is that it gave a chance for the neoconservative project to be tested to destruction. He refers to a May 2004 piece in which he wrote:

What the President and his advisers are trying to do will be a colossal failure. But failure takes time to show itself beyond contradiction. The theory that liberal values and a capitalist economic system can be spread across the world by force of arms, and that the United States of America is competent to undertake this task, is the first big idea of the 21st Century. It should be tested to destruction.

Since that colossal failure cannot come soon enough, the international media has not been too enthusiastic about the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi last week. Despite a small victory George W. Bush, his neoconservative cabal, and Middle America just don’t get it.

On the other hand Austin Bay compares the war on terror with the Cold War against the Soviet Union and President Bush to President Truman. He writes:

Harry Truman prepared America for the Cold War -- and at West Point, Mr. Bush compared our time to that of Truman, circa 1950. Mr. Bush noted “Truman laid the foundation for freedom’s victory in the Cold War.” Then he said his own administration is “laying the foundation for victory” in our new long war.

In this new long war, what Norman Podhoretz has called World War IV, the strategy of containment that President Truman formulated in the pivotal NSC-68 of 1950 has been replaced with a new strategy that President Bush calls the “forward strategy of freedom.” Continues Austin Bay:

A “forward strategy of freedom” means fostering development of states where the consent of the governed creates legitimacy and where terrorists are prosecuted, not promoted. This strategy requires nation-building.

So Matthew Parris and Austin Bay are essentially agreed about the Bush strategy. The difference is that Parris experiences the Bush strategy as reckless hubris, a wild gesture of imperial overreach, and Austin Bay experiences it as sober realism, the first step in a long and arduous march.

The Bush forward strategy is merely a return to the default western strategy of the last half millennium. Before the First World War western nations believed that their destiny was to expand the light of reason and trade to the uttermost ends of the world, and they acted upon their beliefs. It was the Bolshevik menace and post colonial guilt, not to mention the exhaustion from two world wars, that forced the resort to containment.

Lee Harris states the western argument in Civilization and Its Enemies. The conflict in which we are engaged, he asserts, is one between the productive western team and the “eternal gang of ruthless men,” or more directly, between the adult men’s team and the teenage boys’ gang. The western team culture is one of service, transparency, trust, and the rule of law to mitigate power. But the eternal gang of ruthless men is a culture of pure power, of mistrust and routine betrayal.

At one pole is the world of global trade and commerce, with business enterprises obtaining finance in one country, design in other, parts from a third, and assembly in a fourth. It is a realm of trust that extends from one end of the global middle class to the other.

But then there is the world of the gang. It is a world of mistrust and betrayal, with thug lefty dictators, thug mullah dictators, thug secular dictators, thug populist military dictators, and just plain thugs like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

When you divide the world into productive teams and ruthless gangs then the analysis of Matthew Parris is absurd. If Bush fails then we just pick ourselves up and start again.

But would the next Democratic president do that? Will she review the forward strategy of freedom after the mess of Iraq and ratify it, as President Eisenhower in 1953 ratified the containment strategy of NSC-68 after the mess of the Korean War? Or will she reverse it? As of today, we do not know, and neither does she.

Let us return close to home. Perhaps the real conflict in the war on terror is not the battle of Iraq but the battles of Toronto, London, Madrid, and Denmark. The home-grown jihadis are not testing President Bush and the neoconservative project but something else. They are probing the west at its weakest point, the soft underbelly of the secular, single, childless welfare state beloved of the scribbling classes. They seem to be testing victimology, multiculturalism, and diversity to destruction.

In that case the only way to beat the jihadist menace would be to abandon the welfare state and repudiate its bribed apologists.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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presented by Christopher Chantrill

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