"Community" by Coercion: Behind the Bush Administration's "Compassionate Conservatism" and Revolutionary Foreign Policy Is a Dangerous Collectivist Ideology Called "Communitarianism."

Article excerpt

As the Bush administration's war on terrorism segued seamlessly into a global democratic revolution, the theme of freedom's obligations began to play a more prominent role in presidential rhetoric.

"I ... have this belief, strong belief, that freedom is not this country's gift to the world," pronounced President Bush during his April 13 news conference. "Freedom is the Almighty's gilt to every man and woman in this world. And as the greatest power on the face of the earth, we have an obligation to help the spread of freedom. We have an obligation to help feed the hungry."

"We have an obligation to lead the fight on AIDS, [in] Africa," continued the president. "And we have an obligation to work toward a more free world. That's our obligation. That is what we have been called to do, as far as I'm concerned. And my job as the president is to lead this nation and to making [sic] the world a better place. And that's exactly what we're doing." The president did not explain how the socialist principle of compelling taxpayers to feed the world and fight AIDS would spread freedom.

While the concept of a global democratic revolution deals in grand abstractions, the "obligations" and "responsibilities" it entails for our nation involve very tangible costs--in wealth, liberty, personal security, and irreplaceable individual lives.

Asked by NBC's Tim Russert during a February 8 television interview about the hundreds of Americans killed and wounded in Iraq, Mr. Bush sought to palliate "the parents of the soldiers who have fallen who are listening" by urging them to understand that such sacrifices are dictated by "history's call to America":

   It's historic times.... I've got a foreign
   policy that is one that believes America
   has a responsibility in this world
   to lead, a responsibility to lead in the
   war against terror, a responsibility to
   speak clearly about the threats that we
   all face, a responsibility to promote
   freedom, to free people from the
   clutches of barbaric people such as
   Saddam Hussein ... a responsibility
   to fight AIDS, the pandemic of AIDS,
   and to feed the hungry.
   We have a responsibility.
   To me that is history's
   call to America. I
   accept the call and will
   continue to lead in that
   direction.

This sweeping revolutionary vision stands in stark contrast to the stance espoused by George W. Bush in the 2000 campaign, during which he promised a more "humble" foreign policy. It also represents a complete inversion of our nation's founding premises, both foreign and domestic.

The Founders, most notably Washington, advised our nation to eschew foreign entanglements and crusades. John Quincy Adams memorably elaborated on Washington's wisdom in his 1821 Independence Day address to the House of Representatives: "America goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own."

George W. Bush's global democratic revolution ignores those founding admonitions. And his self-appointed role as the definer of our nation's foreign obligations and responsibilities likewise discards the constitutional assignment of powers in which the president's role is that of executing legitimate congressional enactments--including, when necessary, declarations of war.

In fact, for all of his incessant talk about "freedom" and "obligations," Mr. Bush rarely invokes the Constitution. And while he is widely perceived as a unilateralist, the president's trade policy is designed to build a hemisphere-wide regional government--the so-called "Free Trade Area of the Americas"--modeled on the socialist European Union. And on scores of occasions, Mr. Bush explicitly said that the invasion of Iraq was intended to enhance the power and credibility of the UN.

Obviously, the term "conservatism"--even of the "compassionate" variety--is unsuitable to describe Mr. …