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Saturday, January 22, 2005

Leave No Dissident Behind

The Moose wonders whether the President will walk the walk as well as he talked the talk.

The President's men already appear to be pulling back on W's soaring rhetoric in the inaugural address. The $40 million revellers had barely boarded their private jets to take them back home when advisers were already "clarifying" the President's fine words.

Today's Washington Post -

"White House officials said yesterday that President Bush's soaring inaugural address, in which he declared the goal of ending tyranny around the world, represents no significant shift in U.S. foreign policy but instead was meant as a crystallization and clarification of policies he is pursuing in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East and elsewhere.

"Nor, they say, will it lead to any quick shift in strategy for dealing with countries such as Russia, China, Egypt and Pakistan, allies in the fight against terrorism whose records on human rights and democracy fall well short of the values Bush said would become the basis of relations with all countries."

All of this raises the question - was it just hollow rhetoric and what exactly are the implications of the speech? The Moose's main objections to the address were not the sentiments expressed but rather than it seemed untethered from reality. How can one address the battle for democracy and the war against terror without even a mention of the "I" word - Iraq?

Perhaps, the standards contained in the No Child Left Behind Act should be employed to judge the President's success in matching his rhetoric with deeds. We need measurable objectives and results. Apparently, the President's men already want to lower the bar by making such states as Russia, China, Pakistan and Egypt off limits to evaluation.

Not so fast, Mr. President - Leave no Dissident Behind!

The advancement of democracy in two key states is critical in the evaluation of the President's fine vision - Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Iraq, for obvious reasons, and in Saudi Arabia because that has been the center of the terrorist scourge. Saudi is where most of the 9/11 terrorists called home. That government has been the most responsible for the spread of Wahhabi hate. And the President himself has embraced its tyrannical leaders - he even feted them at the ranch.

Idealistic rhetoric without practical deeds is vacant utopianism. Progressives, however, should not cede democratic idealism because Bush embraces it. They should not become left wing versions of Bret Scowcroft and Pat Buchanan. Rather, people of the left should connect with the progressive internationalist tradition of Truman and JFK which promoted freedom abroad based on practical deeds and economic justice at home.

Above all, progressives should not permit their justified spite of the Bushies to lead them to abandon a proud tradition of liberal internationalism.
-- Posted at 11:07 AM | Link to this post | Email this post