Bush puts the burden on us instead of the Palestinians:
Or, how Bush’s messianism leads to moral relativism

Put on your seat belts. Here’s our president in a speech today in Brussels:

Our efforts are guided by a clear vision: We’re determined to see two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.

We’re determined to see a Palestinian state? We’re determined to see a Palestinian state? Don’t the Palestinians’ own actions and preferences have something to do with this hoped-for outcome? According to Bush’s own position dating from June 2002, we will only help the Palestinians acquire a state if they eliminate their terror networks, eliminate their culture of terrorism, accept Israel’s existence, and develop a working democratic government. If they meet these and other conditions, then we help them acquire a state. This was Bush’s moral and realistic break with the disastrous “peace process” mentality of the past (for which the neocons praised him mightily). But now Bush has eliminated those conditions (yet the neocons still praise him mightily). Now a Palestinian state is something that we are positively seeking, meaning that it doesn’t matter what the Palestinians do.

Bush continues:

The Palestinian people deserve a government that is representative, honest and peaceful. The people of Israel need an end to terror and a reliable, steadfast partner for peace. And the world must not rest until there is a just and lasting resolution to this conflict.

The Palestinian people deserve a government that is representative, honest, and peaceful? Since when is having any particular form of government something that you deserve? That’s like saying that a person deserves to have a career as a heart surgeon, or deserves to be a millionaire, or deserves to have a successful marriage. Such things aren’t a matter of deserts, but of the person making it happen.

In speaking of what the Palestinians “deserve,” Bush has committed one of the cardinal acts of modern leftism: he has redefined a good as a positive right. Further, if a good is a positive right, then some other party has the obligation to deliver that good to you. And who is that party? It is we, or, as Bush puts it, it’s the whole world: “[T]he world must not rest until there is a just and lasting resolution to this conflict.” Once again, Bush is saying that the end result, a Palestinian state, or, rather, our endless effort to achieve it, does not depend on what the Palestinians themselves do. By his logic, even if the Palestinians keep up their terror war against Israel, even if they keep teaching their children to hate and massacre Jews and Israelis, the world must keep striving to create a Palestinian state.

Bush continues:

All the parties have responsibilities to meet. Arab states must end incitement in their own media, cut off public and private funding for terrorism, stop their support for extremist education, and establish normal relations with Israel.

Now, this is Bush’s original language from June 2002, which clearly meant that if the Palestinians don’t fulfill any of those conditions, then the world has no obligation to do anything for them. But that is not what Bush is now saying. Instead he is saying that the world must not rest until there is a Palestinian state.

Will any prominent conservatives criticize Bush for these dangerous, arrogant, incoherent commitments? No, because the conservatives have given up thinking. All that matters to them is beating the destructive left and making Bush look good. By standing resolutely at Bush’s side no matter what he does, by refusing to criticize him under any circumstances, the conservatives are enabling him to keep moving deeper and deeper into some kind of freaky, UN-style leftism, which the conservatives celebrate as a victory for conservatism.

The same loss of reality is seen in Bush’s discussion of his democracy agenda for the broader Mideast:

Europe and America should not expect or demand that reforms come all at once — that didn’t happen in our own histories. My country took many years to include minorities and women in the full promise of America — and that struggle hasn’t ended.

With these words, Bush is portraying the pre-1919 America, when women didn’t have the vote, and the pre-1964 America, when blacks in the South were discriminated against, as the moral equivalent of brutal Moslem dictatorships. Do people understand what this man is up to? First he sets out a utopian, off-the-planet agenda—that the Moslem countries will turn into liberal democracies. But then, in order to cover himself, since he knows that this utopian vision is not about to happen in the next ten minutes or the next ten years or ever, he puts America and these repulsive Moslem regimes on the same moral plane: “Hey, we’re not perfect either, guys, so we don’t expect you to be perfect.” It is the ultimate act of liberal relativism: to avoid passing judgment on Moslem tyrannies, Bush pretends that our historic political system has been as bad as theirs.

And what is it that drove him to this extreme act of relativism? Ironically, it is his own messianic, neoconservative utopianism, which claims that Moslems are all desirous and capable of becoming liberal democrats like us. To escape the embarrassing consequences of having based his entire global strategy on these impossibly high standards that he has set for Moslems, Bush has to turn around and eliminate all standards, by suggesting a moral equivalence between our country and the most backward and oppressive regimes on earth.

Could anything be more despicable? I don’t think that Clinton, the man who corrupted and debased America more than any individual in our history, ever said anything as despicable as this.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 21, 2005 06:13 PM | Send

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