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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

LA-LA Land

I hear it's nice this time of year. But why don't we ask our dear president, he's clearly taken up permanent residence there. From July 28, 2006 press conference with Tony Blair.

PRESIDENT BUSH: David Gregory.

Q: Thank you. Mr. President, both of you, I'd like to ask you about the big picture that you're discussing. Mr. President, three years ago, you argued that an invasion of Iraq would create a new stage of Arab-Israeli peace. And yet today, there is an Iraqi Prime Minister who has been sharply critical of Israel. Arab governments, despite your arguments, who have criticized Hezbollah, have now changed their tune. Now they're sharply critical of Israel. And despite from both of you, warnings to Syria and Iran to back off support from Hezbollah, effectively, Mr. President, your words are being ignored. So what has happened to America's clout in this region that you've committed yourself to transform?

PRESIDENT BUSH: David, it's an interesting period because instead of having foreign policies based upon trying to create a sense of stability, we have a foreign policy that addresses the root causes of violence and instability.

For a while, American foreign policy was just, let's hope everything is calm, kind of managed calm. But beneath the surface brewed a lot of resentment and anger that was manifested in its -- on September the 11th. And so we've taken a foreign policy that says, on the one hand, we will protect ourselves from further attack in the short-run by being aggressive and chasing down the killers and bringing them to justice -- and make no mistake, they're still out there, and they would like to harm our respective peoples because of what we stand for -- in the long-term, to defeat this ideology, and they're bound by an ideology. You defeat it with a more hopeful ideology called freedom.

And, look, I fully understand some people don't believe it's possible for freedom and democracy to overcome this ideology of hatred. I understand that. I just happen to believe it is possible, and I believe it will happen. And so what you're seeing is a clash of governing styles, for example. The notion of democracy beginning to emerge scares the ideologues, the totalitarians, those who want to impose their vision. It just frightens them, and so they respond. They've always been violent.

I hear this amazing kind of editorial thought that says, all of a sudden Hezbollah has become violent because we're promoting democracy. They have been violent for a long period of time. Or Hamas. One reason why the Palestinians still suffer is because there are militants who refuse to accept a Palestinian state based upon democratic principles.

And so what the world is seeing is a desire by this country and our allies to defeat the ideology of hate with an ideology that has worked and that brings hope. And one of the challenges, of course, is to convince people that Muslims would like to be free, that there's other people other than people in Britain and America that would like to be free in the world. There's this kind of almost -- kind of weird kind of elitism, that says, well, maybe certain people in certain parts of the world shouldn't be free; maybe it's best just to let them sit in these tyrannical societies. And our foreign policy rejects that concept. We don't accept it.

And so we're working. And this is -- as I said the other day, when these attacks took place, I said this should be a moment of clarity for people to see the stakes in the 21st century. I mean, there's an unprovoked attack on a democracy. Why? I happen to believe, because progress is being made toward democracies. And I believe that -- I also believe that Iran would like to exert additional influence in the region. A theocracy would like to spread its influence using surrogates.

And so I'm as determined as ever to continue fostering a foreign policy based upon liberty. And I think it's going to work, unless we lose our nerve and quit. And this government isn't going to quit.
Quixotically enough, our foreign policy seems to teeter on Bush's pollyannish idealism about "liberty" overcoming all, if you want it badly enough. It's as if he's read too many Cliff Note-versions about America's origins that were all steeped in flawless liberty, omitting all the parts that cast any ugly shadows about what we had to do, who we had to kill and oppress to get here.

So all of our foreign policy is based on what Bush believes and thinks he knows and understands-- totally disregarding that we took out a secular government, albeit a screwed up one, only to replace it with a Muslim government. Or that Hezbollah's goal of spreading fundy theocracies throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa is far easier as more Middle Eastern countries unite against Israel and the United States and the West in general. Or discounting them all because they're "haters." Or that we have our own Christian fundy who doesn't really truly believe in freedom or democracy-- or really understand that we don't actually have a democracy-- at the helm of the whole operation.

In the World According to Bush his 3rd-grader notion about spreading democracy is accomplished best by diminishing our own reputation as peacebrokers, turning our back on international cooperation and diplomacy, that we will defeat violent people by pretending that we aren't violent or supporting violence. Essentially Bush's answer seems to be that he believes we can defeat them with freedom. I know this is nothing new but with what is going on now it seems more half-baked than ever.

I have a few follow-up questions I would have asked The Decider after this little speech about his hopes and dreams in his heart of hearts-- what if you're wrong? what do you think will the result will be? Do you have a Plan B or C or D? (Yes, I know, people generally don't get to ask him follow-up questions.)

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