Skip to comments.America's ideologue in chief
Posted on 09/09/2006 5:37:04 AM PDT by A. Pole
"The war we fight today is more than a military conflict," said President Bush to the American Legion. "It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century."
But if the ideology of our enemy is "Islamo-fascism," what is the ideology of George W. Bush? According to James Montanye, writing in the Independent Review, it is "democratic fundamentalism." Montanye borrows Joseph Schumpeter's depiction of Marxism to describe it.
Like Marxism, he writes, democratic fundamentalism "presents, first, a system of ultimate ends that embody the meaning of life and are absolute standards by which to judge events and actions; and, secondly, a guide to those ends which implies a plan of salvation and the indication of the evil from which mankind, or a chosen section of mankind, is to be saved. ... It belongs to that subgroup (of 'isms') which promises paradise this side of the grave."
Ideology is substitute religion, and Bush's beliefs were on display in his address to the Legion, where he painted the "decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century" in terms of good and evil.
"On the one side are those who believe in the values of freedom ... the right of all people to speak and worship and live in liberty. And on the other side are those driven by the values of tyranny and extremism, the right of a self-appointed few to impose their fanatical views on all the rest."
Casting one's cause in such terms can be effective in wartime. In his Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural, Lincoln converted a war to crush Southern secession into a crusade to end slavery and save democracy on earth.
Wilson recast a European war of imperial powers as a " war to end war" and "make the world safe for democracy." FDR and Churchill in the Atlantic Charter talked of securing "the Four Freedoms," but were soon colluding to hand over Eastern Europe to the worst tyrant and mass murderer of the 20th century.
The peril of ideology is that it rarely comports with reality and is contradicted by history, thus leading inevitably to disillusionment and tragedy. Consider but a few of the assertions in Bush's address.
Said Bush, we know by "history and logic" that "promoting democracy is the surest way to build security." But history and logic teach, rather, what George Washington taught: The best way to preserve peace is to be prepared for war and to stay out of wars that are none of the nation's business.
"Democracies don't attack each other or threaten the peace," said Bush. How does he then explain the War of 1812, when we went to war against Britain, when she was standing up to Napoleon? What about the War Between the States? Were not the seceding states democratic? What about the Boer War, begun by the Brits? What about World War I, fought between the world's democracies, which also happened to be empires ruling subject peoples?
In May 1901, a 26-year-old Tory member of Parliament rose to issue a prophetic warning: "Democracy is more vindictive than cabinets. The wars of peoples will be more terrible than the wars of kings." Considering the war that came in 1914 and the vindictive peace it produced, giving us Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini and Hitler, was not Churchill more right than Bush?
"Governments accountable to the people focus on building roads and schools not weapons of mass destruction," said Bush. But is it not the democracies Israel, India, Britain, France, the United States that possess a preponderance of nuclear weapons? Are they all disarming? Were not the Western nations first to invent and use poison gas and atom bombs?
Insisting it is the lack of freedom that fuels terrorism, Bush declares, "Young people who have a say in their future are less likely to search for meaning in extremism." Tell it to Mussolini and the Blackshirts. Tell it to the Nazis, who loathed the free republic of Weimar, as did the communists.
"Citizens who can join a peaceful political party are less likely to join a terrorist organization." But the West has been plagued by terrorists since the anarchists. The Baader-Meinhoff Gang in Germany, the Red Brigades in Italy, the Puerto Ricans who tried to kill Harry Truman, the London subway bombers were all raised in freedom.
"Dissidents with the freedom to protest around the clock," said the president, "are less likely to blow themselves up at rush hour." But Hamas and Islamic Jihad resort to suicide bombing because they think it a far more effective way to overthrow Israeli rule than marching with signs.
What Bush passed over in his speech is that it is the autocratic regimes in Cairo, Riyadh and Amman that hold back the pent-up animosity toward America and Israel, and free elections that have advanced Hamas, Hezbollah, the Moslem Brotherhood and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power.
In Iraq, we see the inevitable tragedy of ideology, of allowing some intellectual construct, not rooted in reality, to take control of the minds of men.
Substitute religion bump
Uh, Pat, WWI was triggered by kings against democracies, you idiot. And WWII was triggered by totalitarian states against democracies, you idiot.
Pat B. needs to join Pat Robertson in dotage somewhere.
Germany and Austro-Hungary had strong and well functioning parliaments, United Kingdom was a monarchy with strong a strong Parliament. BTW, if Germans were allowed to keep the king after WWI, the political vacuum of Weimar Republic would not be there.
If you want more numerous samples look at the democratic city states of ancient Greece, Italy and Germany. They were not less warlike than monarchies.
The primary power still rested with the monarchies, and it was they who triggered the pan-European war.
BTW, if Germans were allowed to keep the king after WWI, the political vacuum of Weimar Republic would not be there.
Wrong again. The vacuum came from not finishing the job in the first place in WWI, as opposed to WWII, where German militarism was wiped out.
Rationalize it all you want, but Pat was an idiot here.
it's been sad to watch Buchanan's decline over the past decade or so ... he's so hate-filled and bitter that even when he is right, he's hard to watch, listen to, or read. just pathetic.
I don't think he's ever gotten over losing the Iowa Straw Poll that he'd invested so much time, money and energy into winning. So, he fixed the GOP but good ... ran 3rd party with an avowed Marxist. Putz. He's more a sore loser than Gore.
Considering the war that came in 1914 and the vindictive peace it produced, giving us Lenin, Stalin
Amazing in its staggering, probably deliberate ignorance of most basic history. Lenin came to power during WWI. And the harsh peace that ended Russia's involvement in the war was made by Germany, not the West.
The clear problem with how WWI ended was not a harsh peace, but that the west was unable to finish the job like they did the second go-round. If you look at the horrors inflicted upon Germany and Japan in WWII (necessary horrors), they were FAR more drastic than Versailles. The countries were basicaly obliterated. Yet now Germany and Japan are peaceful democracies (there's that nasty D-word again) and are demilitarized.
So that simple bit of history destroys the anti-democracy positions of Pat and many others. Japan had utterly NO democratic history, and Germany very little. Their current democracies were imposed by completion of total war. If history is any lesson, Iraq is taking a long time to complete not because we were too aggressive, but because we were not nearly aggressive enough against the Baathist political core of the country and the nitwit militia movements such as Sadr's. They saw our restraint as weakness.
It's Western Civilization against Islamic extremists Pat. Pretty simple.
the autocratic regimes aren't holding back pent up anger against Israel and America, they are holding back pent up anger against themselves, using Wahabists, etc., as a safety valve to direct anger outward to inconsequential "issues" like the existence of Israel or the Great Satan.
First of all, IMO the election of Hamas was a good thing. It meant the Palestinians could no longer play the Fatah good cop/Hamas bad cop routine. Now it is crystal clear the Palestinian people do not seek to co-exist with Israel, but destroy it. And Israel has had nearly free reign to deal with Hamas as a result.
Hezbollah is powerful not because it won 20 percent of the vote, but because of Syria's continued political influence over Lebanon. Take away Syria, and Hez would be a non-entity.
And Ahmadinejad was not elected in a fair and free election. If you believe he was, well, we really ain't on the same page of reality, and you must dwell in Pat's.
If you want to draw lessons, I suggest looking at the provisional governments of Russia and Germany that were toppled easily by revolutionaries. They show why Iraq needs us until they are on their feet. We used to have good sense of how debilitating life under tyranny is, especially when SU fell. Now we have conveniently forgotten in a haze of partisan spin.
But the Moslem Brotherhood is in autocratic Egypt. If Pat can't hold the same thought from the beginning to the end of the same sentence, then how cogent do you expect his argument to be?
An excellent point. Fledgling democracies need to be nurtured and protected, just like any young animal. You just don't toss the baby bird out of the nest after hatching and expect it to fly.
Sorry about that snark that was directed at you, I thought the non-italicized stuff was your comments.
no offense intended or taken
"It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried." Winston Churchill
Isn't this Churchill's most famous democracy quote, in spite of knowing more than Buchanan and A. Pole together about WW I, Weimar, ancient Greece, etc., etc.?
Entire article is built on a false premise of "democratic fundamentalism".