Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 21, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

BOOM....Where does this stuff come from? Here is Fred Barnes writing about old fogey foreign policy realism vs. George Bush's new wave foreign policy idealism:

Security, of course, is the goal of the realists. They prefer democracies, but they're not adamant about it. If an autocratic country is friendly to the United States and opposes America's enemies, the realists are quite satisfied. Transforming such a country into a democracy would not be part of their foreign policy agenda. Think of Saudi Arabia in this regard, or Pakistan.

Bush rejects this thinking. The best way to achieve the realists' goal of maximum security for America, he believes, is for there to be more democracies in the world. In effect, Bush said the policy of idealists will lead to the goal of realists. "America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one," he said. Boom! The wall between the two schools is gone, at least in the president's formulation.

Saudi Arabia? Pakistan? Whatever else you can say about George Bush, he hasn't done squat to move either of these countries into the ranks of democracy. He treats the theocrats in Saudi Arabia with kid gloves because they can jack up oil prices if they ever get pissed off at us, and he treats the military dictatorship in Pakistan with kid gloves because they provide a bit of help now and then while pretending to hunt down Osama bin Laden.

There are good reasons for Bush to treat Saudi Arabia and Pakistan this way. Lots of presidents have done the same thing. But Bush hasn't rejected realism, he's fervently embraced it while telling his speechwriters to say the opposite.

Boom indeed.

Kevin Drum 4:14 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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