Neconphobes Should Relax — Part 2

January 22, 2005

After President Bush’s speech I wrote that I didn’t think people had to worry that he was going to launch some new imperialistic era and start attacking nations that represented no threat to our national security or strategic interests. In other words, I believe he was sincere when he spoke, as he often has before, about the contagious nature of democracy and liberty. But I don’t think he is going to attack nations purely on the basis that they are tyrannical.

To affirm my point, here’s an AP report saying that President Bush 41 is cautioning people against reading too much into his son’s inaugural speech. George H. W. Bush said:

People want to read a lot into it — that this means new aggression or newly assertive military forces. That’s not what that speech is about. It’s about freedom. …

It doesn’t mean instant change in every country — that’s not what he intended.

I really believe people on both sides are making too much of the address. As I said, I think President Bush will do everything he can to avoid military action against Iran. So he certainly won’t look to forcibly spread democracy to other nations that represent lesser threats to the United States.

Having said that, I do believe the president meant every word of his tribute to the power of democracy and liberty. And he’ll do everything he can to continue to promote those principles. But I also believe, as I wrote earlier, that we must view his democratic idealism in the context of his mission in the War on Terror. He knows that we are fighting an enemy that thrives in the darkness, that is smothered by liberty and democracy. He knows that we are destined for a long-term war and that the best chance for a final defeat of terrorists is for democracy and liberty to spread, especially in the Middle East.

So I think we should view his comments about democracy in the context of a post 9/11 world. I dare say President Bush wouldn’t be nearly as proactive about the spread of democracy and liberty had we not be attacked by international terrorists that day. I stand by my opinion that the President, idealistic though he is, is still not a so-called neoconservative who would spread democracy by force even in the absence of a threat to our national interests.

People who fear so-called neoconservatism should relax, hang loose, be cool, chill. I remain convinced that President Bush will not initiate unprovoked attacks on sovereign nations that represent no threat — direct or indirect — to our people, our national security, or our strategic interests, purely for the sake of converting tyrannies to democracy. If that’s what neoconservatives stand for — and I’m not sure it is — George W. Bush, in my opinion, is no neoconservative. And if we’ve learned nothing else in the last four years, the president is the one who calls the shots in the Bush administration.