Conservative Bush Bashing

Bush-bashing always tastes better when it comes from the Right. First up is Slate’s review of a number of books by conservatives that round on the president for his anti-conservative policies. Second, and more interesting, is a must-read article by NeoCon guru, Francis Fukuyama. Seriously, you’ve got to read this one. The short version: the Bush Doctrine (save the world through the projection of American might) is now in shambles. The solution:

If we are serious about the good governance agenda, we have to shift our focus to the reform, reorganization and proper financing of those institutions of the United States government that actually promote [rather than enforce] democracy, development and the rule of law around the world, organizations like the State Department, U.S.A.I.D., the National Endowment for Democracy and the like…

What is needed now are new ideas, neither neoconservative nor realist, for how America is to relate to the rest of the world — ideas that retain the neoconservative belief in the universality of human rights, but without its illusions about the efficacy of American power and hegemony to bring these ends about.

It’s all about institution-building, both at home and abroad. Build it, and liberal democracy will come. Much the same thing could be said about Palestine: we did not adequately support Abbas; Fatah foundered; the people voted for Hamas.

(Bonus: read Democracy Arsenal’s review of the Fukuyama piece: Fukuyama’s assertion that the problem with Iraq was one of faulty ideology (the ineluctability of democracy) is wrong. It was simply piss-poor governance.)


  1. Now if conservatives had been turning on each other _before_ the ’04 election, I’d give them credit for placing principles over power…but as it is, they obviously kept quiet long enough to retain control and see if Bush could reinvent himself…which he hasn’t.Now all this conservative Bush bashing is just perfectly timed to distance themselves from a lame-duck president in time for the mid-terms.Yes, it’s entertaining to see conservatives turn on Bush, but it’s about as real as reality TV.


  2. True, Watt, true…. but to be fair, none of these guys are running for office.Nice blowback in Samarra, today, btw. What hath Tony and George wrought?


  3. Since when did politicians start talking for themselves on such difficult subjects? Get the “unbiased” shills to do the talking and then all you have to do is say “yea, yea”…this isn’t too crazy a conspiracy theory is it?On Samarra…yeah, George and Tony…and the roughly 50% of the populace that elected then re-elected them…not to mention the 100% of the populace that can’t seem to do anything about it, even now. It wouldn’t be too anti-american to say that we should have learned from the Russians…would it?Rant, rant: No, we can’t learn from the Russians, ’cause they ain’t like us. We can’t even learn from ourselves ’cause we don’t make mistakes. Heaven help us…


  4. Ronan and Watt, I suppose you are right–it is Bush and Blair’s fault that Sunni terrorists blew up a Shiite mosque. If we would have only left Saddam in power, then the Shiite’s would still be under the thumb of torturous oppression and the mosque probably wouldn’t have been blown up.In other words, I think your criticisms on this point are indeed shrill.Having said that, I am not a supporter of forcing democracy on a people who neither want it, nor are grateful for it, nor are interested in freedom in the slightest way. There is absolutely no reason for us to be interested in bringing them freedom. They neither want it nor can handle it, apparently. Freedom and democracy are developments that must come from within a society. Tyranny and oppression will reign until the people themselves through that yoke off. No matter how noble it seemed to bring democracy to an irrational and oppressive society such as Iraq, the United States and Great Britain should have resisted the temptation. They should have spent the billions this useless war has cost on developing renewable energy so that we could simply disengage entirely from the Middle East and let them devour themselves with their religious genocides and tyrannies.


  5. John:No, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. As Fukuyama says, we can build institutions of liberal democracy that can help the Middle East help itself (that old conservative notion). The opposite of the Bush Doctrine is not letting them “devour themselves with their religious genocides and tyrannies.” (Very “shrill” indeed!) The opposite of the Bush Doctrine would have been engaging with political Islam, giving every ounce of support possible to Arab liberals and intellectuals, and helping people like Abu Mazen. It’s not too late. Engagement with the Middle East need not come with the bullet and the bomb.


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