The fundamental irrationality of Bush’s democratism
Bush’s position, enunciated in his inaugural address, is that we cannot be safe in our own country unless people everywhere are free. Now it goes without saying that a reasonable degree of safety in our own country is an indispensable object. But it also should go without saying that the freedom of all people everywhere is a very difficult, and probably impossible, object. Bush has thus conditioned something that is indispensable on something that is impossible. This is not rational.
The same thing is done all the time with respect to Israel. People will say, “We cannot pursue goal X” (a war to overthrow Saddam Hussein, for example) “until we have peace” (i.e., a two-state solution) “between the Palestinians and the Israelis.” In fact, some American and British leaders were making this very demand not long before the Iraq war, until they quietly dropped it. And now some of the same people (with Blair in the forefront) are saying that we cannot successfully wage the war on terror until there is peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis. But if you say that you cannot proceed with X until you accomplish something that is impossible, you will never do the things that are actually in your power to achieve X.
We thus have two purported conditions for success in the war on terror—freedom for all people everywhere, and peace in the Mideast. What these two conditions have in common is that they are liberal dreams. In each case, the attainment of a frivolous, utopian, liberal dream is treated as the price for achieving a legitimate, necessary, and doable goal.
The only kind of people who could think this way would be people who didn’t want to achieve their legitimate and necessary goals. In a word, liberals.