Monday, December 12, 2005

R Emmett Tyrrell Jr looks at Bush's presidency.

In recognition of the five year anniversary of Al Gores phone call to George Bush conceding the 2000 election, The Guardian asks six prominent commentators to reflect on the Bush presidency to this point.

I wish to confine my analysis of this article to the critique offered by R Emmett Tyrrell Jr, founder of the American Spectator.
Although Truman was viewed a failure, he is now esteemed as one of the "near-great" presidents. He was inspired in the 1940's by high-minded ideals, as was FDR, who perceived Hitler's threat to our civilisation perhaps even before Winston Churchill. Truman, too, was an enemy of tyranny; in March 1947, he told a joint session of Congress: "I believe that it must be the policy of the US to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures."

This was called the Truman Doctrine. Today, with minor emendations, it might be called the Bush Doctrine. Like Truman, Bush will be adjudged a failure or a success on the outcome of his "support of free peoples". His foreign policy is his greatest gambit.
First, the Truman doctrine was a response to communism. In the vernacular of the time, the foes of communism were "free peoples" by default. Yet it is clear that Truman in the cause of fighting communism had no misgiving in supporting the repressive and dictatorial regimes who supported the west against communism.

As to the wars fought by Truman and Bush, I find it hard to compare the war in Iraq with either WWII or Korea. I know many Bushovichs are fond of comparing the war on terror as a whole with WWII, complete with the analogy of Pearl Harbor to 9/11, but the conflicts as a whole are widely separated by various distinctions. We did not alienate allies with our conduct of WWII, but in carrying forth the Iraqi invasion the Bush administration has alienated the vast majority of those who allied with us in the war on terror following 9/11. The war on terror is being fought against a fundamentalist ideology, and thus will not conclude if or when we conquer the territory of the leadership arrayed against us. Rather attempting to do so would, and is, further exacerbating the Islamic world and strengthens, not weakens, our enemy. In WWII we used our military against the interests of our enemies, (Germany, Japan and Italy) yet in the war on terror we have invaded a nation that had no bearing in the war prior to our invasion. If America had invaded Mongolia in response to Pearl Harbor it is quite obvious they would have turned to the Axis for support, and our cause would have been disastrously weakened. There are several other important differences between the war on terror and WWII. The same stands for the Korean war, and if challenged I may denote several stark differences there as well, but I don't want to make this post too lengthy.

Therefore I can but conclude the Truman doctrine, designed for the containment of communism, is not comparable to the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war, unilateralism, and the spread of democracy through force of arms in the middle east. Did Truman ever start a war with another country to fight communism? Keep in mind that America defended S. Korea, we did not start that war.

Speaking about the presidents political opposition Tyrrell says:
They loathe this president. They are proud of their anger. The intensity of this anger is peculiar. After all, Bush's domestic policy is not that much different from Reagan's and his foreign policy is pretty much in line with the doctrine that Truman lent his name to and which FDR would indubitably have approved. How does one account for this dispendious wrath? More than principle or personal interest, politics is the domain of psychological need. In the case of Bush, the need of a passing Old Order to have enemies.
I find the comparison of Bushism with Reaganism here telling. It may be true that Reagan approached governance with a distinctly hands off attitude, and this may have provided the occasional embarrassment as the president was fed answers by his wife or caught snoozing during important times. But his cabinet by and large was filled with competent, if conservative, membership. Bush on the other hand has chosen a notoriously cronyistic approach to leadership roles in his administration. If he passes the buck to them on decisions, many of them can be counted on to figure out a way to take that buck and enrich themselves with it. And Bush's cabinet has proven time and again to not be interested in facts when reaching their decisions. At one point, when it became clear that the Reagan administration had sold arms to Iran and used those proceeds to fund the anti Sandinista movement, Reagan owned the truth and admitted the facts of the matter. Something that is quite honestly inconceivable from president Bush.

Also Reagan was well known for chatting up people who disagreed with him. When is the last time you have heard of president Bush meeting with the democratic congressional leadership. This president is quite simply unable to hear the opposing viewpoint and not interested in the facts if they do not bear out his side of the argument. Since normally, the facts are not with him the Bush tendency is to simply make up facts as need be.

Yes I bear my disdain of president Bush's policies as a badge of honor. How could one not be proud to stand for the truth, against torture, for science, against corruption and cronyism, against unprovoked war, and the list of Bush's abominable governance could go on for another twenty items. Darned right I'm proud of that.

Overall, Tyrrell appears to be an apologist for this administration, in the end passing off Bush's troubles due to the need of the left to have an enemy. I tend to think the Bush troubles may more appropriately be layed at the feet of inept, corrupt and blindly idealistic governance. It is not the liberals of America who have led us down this path... it is the liberals who are merely pointing to the facts of the matter while the Koolaid drinkers pretend that everything is going along perfectly fine.

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