Magazine article The American Enterprise

Sailing on the Right Course

Magazine article The American Enterprise

Sailing on the Right Course

Article excerpt

Is it possible to "transform" the politics of Iraq--and the greater Middle East--to make them more democratic? President Bush has long believed it is. His January 2002 State of the Union address is best remembered for the "Axis of Evil" but it also defined the "greater objective" of the global war on terror as recognition of liberty and justice throughout a region where these have long been dismissed. "No nation is exempt" from these "true and unchanging" principles, the President declared.

The Bush Doctrine and the President's speeches were never premised entirely, or even primarily, on the dangers posed by Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein, though these were very real. The fullest expression of President Bush's vision of democratic transformation came in his speech to the American Enterprise Institute on February 28. "There was a time;' he said, "when many said that the cultures of Japan and Germany were incapable of sustaining democratic values. Some say the same of Iraq today. They are mistaken."

Even today, both the Left and Right critiques of the President's Iraq policy are imbued with the idea that this greater objective is unattainable, even hubristic. The Left's critique stresses the arrogance of American power: No military action is legitimate without the blessing of the United Nations. The Right's critique stresses the arrogance of American principles: Liberty is an unalienable right here, but beyond our shores it can be dangerously destabilizing.

The TAE poll, as well as the Gallup poll that followed it in September, strongly suggests that President Bush is right and his critics are wrong. …

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