Diplomacy and the Second Term

| January 22, 2005 | 3 Replies

At last, I’ve had the time to really read over the President’s much-analyzed Inaugural speech and, more importantly, time to think about what he really said.

The entire speech, from my point of view, boils down to a couple sentences.

There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.

So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary. Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities. And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way.

This speech and this approach to fostering democracy is different than the President’s approach in his first term (which, anyone with half an eye on the news would have to admit was shockingly – even historically – successful).

The reason for this, I think, has nothing to do with being “messianic” as it’s portrayed in the foreign media.

The reasons are Condoleeza Rice and Porter Goss.

For the first time, the President not only has people heading the CIA and State Department he can trust but he also has people there who share his view of fostering freedom around the world. He didn’t have that in George Tenet and Colin Powell. He couldn’t move on anything truly big without knowing that State and CIA would either drrag their feet, or leak every little detail of his plans to the hostile media.

That’s not the case now.

The change in Secretaries at those departments give these paragraphs real import.

We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.

We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people. America’s belief in human dignity will guide our policies, yet rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators; they are secured by free dissent and the participation of the governed. In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty.

It means nothing to have a forward-looking foreign policy about advancing democracy when our primary organs of foreign intelligence and diplomacy aren’t forward looking. With Rice and Goss, they are and they give the President the ability to give the speech he gave last Thursday.

You can be sure that Condoleeza Rice or her right-hand man won’t be giving kudos to Iran’s government as did her predecessor. Syria won’t be hearing gentility about their funding of terrorists in Iraq nor of their long and brutal occupation of Lebanon. Saudi Arabia won’t have the luxury of warm words for their treatment of women and people of other faiths.

That doesn’t mean that we will bring the military hammer down. That does mean that we will use the considerable power of our favor to put pressure on tyrannical governments. The Bush Policy is very simple: If you want the very large benefits of being a friend of the United States, you will not oppress and brutalize your people. If you continue to do so, we will work tirelessly to help the dissident groups in your country to overthrow you.

That’s a powerful message and it doesn’t require our firing a single shot.

Category: Our Foreign Policy

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