Bush Waxes Philosophical

We don’t often see “George W. Bush” and “philosophical argument” in the same sentence, let alone in the same column. So this piece by Hoover Institution’s Tod Lindberg is noteworthy:

Spreading Democracy (Washington Times)

During the remarkable round of interviews he gave to major newspapers last week, President Bush spoke often of his commitment to the spread of democracy, sometimes in startling terms. As he told the Wall Street Journal in an aside after the end of the formal interview, “I understand there are many who say ‘Bush is wrong.’ I assume I’m right. It’s exciting to be part of stimulating a debate of such significance. It really is the philosophical argument of the age.” I don’t know which is the more remarkable: An American president who thinks in terms of “the philosophical argument of the age.” Or that, well, yes, Mr. Bush is right, the question of the spread of democracy really is the philosophical argument of the age.

[…]

Go back and read that Wall Street Journal quotation again. Mr. Bush gets a lot of grief for his supposed self-certainty (often attributed, usually disparagingly, to his religious beliefs). Yet what you see here, on the contrary, is a man who sees a “philosophical argument,” which is to say, a contest with at least two sides. His presidency is “stimulating a debate” over the spread of democracy by trying to spread it. He is aware that there are those who say “Bush is wrong.” He doesn’t in turn say they are wrong. He says, “I assume I’m right” — which is to say, he will act in accordance with the conviction “that the philosophical argument of the age” will be resolved in favor of the spread of democracy.

That’s because he thinks democracy is the right side to be on — not in the sense of the “right side of history,” though he has his hopes, but in the sense that the promotion of democracy is morally right. Let those who disagree speak up.

If Bush is indeed engaged in a philosophical argument, then it’s worth noting how he arrived at his position. He became convinced of democracy promotion not through some kind of theoretical exercise but through experience: 9/11. It would be a long stretch to start invoking pragmatism or any other intellectual movement, so I’ll stop here by saying that, as Lindberg suggests, it’s probably insufficient to attribute Bush’s every major action to his faith.

FILED UNDER: General, National Security
Robert Garcia Tagorda
About Robert Garcia Tagorda
Robert blogged prolifically at OTB from November 2004 to August 2005, when career demands took him in a different direction. He graduated summa cum laude from Claremont McKenna College with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and earned his Master in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

Comments

  1. Raymond says:

    Like the fact that the leftist faith that Murdered 174 Million people, and still killing is wrong ?

    What is your alterntive ?

    And on what basis other than wild ass guess ?

  2. markus says:

    Excuse me, but “That’s because he thinks democracy is the right side to be on … in the sense that the promotion of democracy is morally right. Let those who disagree speak up.” formerly known as “objectively pro-Saddam” passes for “philosophical debate” at the WT? And you bring this up because ….?

  3. McGehee says:

    Grumpiest thread I’ve seen here in a while.

  4. Raymond says:

    While we watched Barbra Boxer strut her true colors as a wackjob blood stained leftist indoctrinare tinfoil hatjob attacking Dr Rice, what we saw on display was a frothy manic desperate dig for any shread to weild for a weapon.

    On display was the total void of any actual real ideas of her own, anything real to offer, other than thinly veiled rage.

    It was like McDermot standing on the mass grave of children we dug up later, found still clutching toys, standing in Saddams killing fields in support of the Butcher of babylon, where his sons used kidnapped 14 year olds for sex toys and tiger food.

    Another disgusting socialist, inraged because America took down another Socialist Dictator, From Saddam to Castro, the blood stained left that invented the Gulag the Purge and the Progrom, and Murdered a mountain of 174 Million innocents over the last 80+ years.

    The left are dependably allied with evil at every turn.

  5. anjin-san says:

    Seems like there has to be a better way to spread democracy then dropping bombs. A great president, like say, Reagan, was able to bring democracy to millions essentially without firing a shot.

    Bush on the other hand, has created a slaughterhouse to rival the one saddam ran. Now the latest thing from the White House is lowering expectations for the Iraq elections.

  6. DC Loser says:

    Like Mao said, political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. Apparently so does democracy.

  7. LJD says:

    “Bush on the other hand, has created a slaughterhouse to rival the one saddam ran…”

    Think long and hard about this comment. If you think so, you either have no idea of the one Saddam ran, or you are seriously disillusioned about what Bush is doing in the world.

    Myt evidence? The numbers reported killed in Iraq by body count are not those resulting from U.S. action, rather that of the terrorists, disease, freak accidents, meteors falling out of the sky, or anything else they can find to pump their numbers up.

    I don’t feel at all responsible for those who have died by the hand of terrorists.

  8. “Seems like there has to be a better way to spread democracy then dropping bombs.”

    Yeah, FDR didn’t know what he was doing. Financial aid through the League of Nations would have improved Germany, Italy, Japan, Hungary, Romania, so that they wouldn’t have any desire to attack us.

    “A great president, like say, Reagan, was able to bring democracy to millions essentially without firing a shot.”

    Except Grenada, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Afghanistan…

    No, he didn’t actually directly attack the USSR. Note, however, that democracy doesn’t seem to be doing all that well in Russia, Byelarus, and several of the Stans. It seems to be quite healthy in countries that we bombed flat (Germany, Italy, Japan).

    I’m going to mix Jackson and Wilson here and say that we CAN have a decent society in any country and that the people will support it, provided that we utterly defeat the existing nation and grind its culture into dust. Then rebuild.

  9. anjin-san says:

    Gary,

    We bombed Germany till all we were doing was blowing up rubble from previous bombings. We nuked Japan twice. Yes, those people were at a point where they would do anything we wanted to make the bombing stop. Is this what you advocate to spread democracy?

    It is also worth noting that Japan attacked us and Germany declared war on us. Little historic point there.

    Almost all of the former Soviet Warsaw Pact states are democracies, or moving twoards democracy and doing much better economically. Like I said, millions of people.

  10. JakeV says:

    I believe that at this point Bush’s supposed commitment to democracy promotion is largely an ex post facto justification for the war in Iraq. What substantive pro-democracy action has Bush taken since the Iraq war?

    I think Bush is interested in the concept of democracy promotion in the same way that he’s interested in the concept of “compassionate conservatism” and in a mission to Mars– as a means of accumulating his coveted “political capital.” I have seen little evidence to the contrary.

  11. LJD says:

    Looks like Japan and Germany are doing significantly better than former Warsaw Pact nations. Not due to the bombing, rather our efforts “occupying” and rebuilding those countries. I suppose you could say occupation is good for Democracy.

  12. anjin-san says:

    LJD,

    You could also say that Germany and Japan have had about a 50 year head start on the Warsaw Pact countries, but that would require something beyond warmed over Bush dogma. Probably explains why you don’t see it.

    History books are avalible at http://www.amazon.com.

  13. anjin-san says:

    For the slow kids, my comment:

    “Almost all of the former Soviet Warsaw Pact states are democracies, or moving twoards democracy and doing much better economically. Like I said, millions of people.”

    Refers to Warsaw Pact countries moving twoards democracy and doing better economically SINCE THE FALL OF THE SOVIET UNION.

    Which is kind of obvious, since I was referring to Reagan’s role in the demise of Soviet Communisim.

  14. LJD says:

    Bush dogma states that occupation was good for Japan and Germany? Guess I missed that one.

    ….and weapons had nothing to do with the fall of the Soviet Union, and no one died, right?

    I guess I was a little distracted by your comment that somehow the president’s actions could in any way be juxtapositioned with that of Saddam. Absurd.

  15. anjin-san says:

    I guess you missed the little news tidbit about the torture chamber Bush’s goverment was running in Iraq.