February 3, 2006
Bristling Defense -- In Retreat
By Pat Buchanan
"The road of isolationism
and protectionism may seem broad and inviting, yet it ends in danger
and decline," railed President Bush in his State of the Union.
Again and again, Bush returned to his theme.
the false comfort of isolationism. ...
would not only tie our hands in fighting enemies, it would keep
us from helping our friends in desperate need. ...
from Roosevelt to Truman to Kennedy to Reagan rejected isolation
Why would a president
use his State of the Union to lash out at a school of foreign
policy thought that has had zero influence in his administration?
The answer is a simple one, but it is not an easy one for Bush
to face: His foreign policy is visibly failing, and his critics
have been proven right.
But rather than defend
the fruits of his policy, Bush has chosen to caricature critics
who warned him against interventionism. Like all politicians in
trouble, Bush knows that the best defense is a good offense.
Having plunged us
into an unnecessary war, Bush now confronts the real possibility
of strategic defeat and a failed presidency. His victory in Iraq,
like the wars of Wilson and FDR, has turned to ashes in our mouths.
And like Truman's war in Korea and Kennedy's war in Vietnam, Bush's
war has left America divided and her people regretting he ever
led us in. But unlike the world wars, Korea and Vietnam, Bush
cannot claim the enemy attacked us and we had no choice. Iraq
is Bush's war. Isolationists had nothing to do with it. To a man
and woman, they opposed it.
Now, with an army
bogged down in Afghanistan and another slowly exiting Iraq, and
no end in sight to either, Bush seeks to counter critics who warned
him not to go in by associating them with the demonized and supposedly
discredited patriots of the America First movement of 1940-41.
His assault is not only non-credible, it borders on the desperate
nation is committed to a historic long-term goal. We seek the
end of tyranny in our world," said Bush. "Some dismiss
that goal as misguided idealism. In reality, the future security
of America depends upon it."
Intending no disrespect,
this is noble-sounding nonsense. Our security rests on U.S. power
and will, and not on whether Zimbabwe, Sudan, Syria, Cuba or even
China is ruled by tyrants. Our forefathers lived secure in a world
of tyrannies by staying out of wars that were none of America's
business. As for "the end of tyranny in our world,"
Mr. President, sorry, that doesn't come in "our world."
That comes in the next.
radical Islam to work its will, by leaving an assaulted world
to fend for itself, we would signal to all that we no longer believe
in our own ideals or even in our own courage," said Bush.
But what has done
more to radicalize Islam than our invasion of Iraq? Who has done
more to empower Islamic radicals than Bush with his clamor for
elections across a region radicalized by our own policies? It
is one thing to believe in ideals, another to be the prisoner
of some democratist ideology.
Bush has come to
believe that the absence of democracy is the cause of terror and
democracy its cure. But the cause of terror in the Middle East
is the perception there that those nations are held in colonial
captivity by Americans and their puppet regimes, and that the
only way to expel both is to use tactics that have succeeded from
Algeria in 1962 to Anbar province in 2005.
Given the franchise,
Arab and Islamic peoples from Pakistan to Iran, Iraq, Lebanon,
Gaza, the West Bank and Egypt have now voted for candidates with
two credentials. They seemed to be devout Muslims, and they appeared
dedicated to tossing America out of the region and the Israelis
into the sea.
With opposition also
rising to his free-trade policy, Bush reverted to the same tactic:
Caricature and castigate critics of his own failed policies. "Protectionists,"
said Bush, pretend "we can keep our high standards of living,
while walling off our economy."
But it was protectionists from Lincoln to Coolidge who gave us
the highest standard of living on earth. And the record of Bush's
merry band of free-traders? The largest trade deficits in history,
a $200 billion trade surplus for Beijing at our expense in 2005,
and 3 million lost manufacturing jobs since Bush first took the
If America is angry
over what interventionism and free trade have wrought, George
Bush cannot credibly blame isolationists or protectionists. These
fellows have an alibi. They were nowhere near the scene of the
It is George W. Bush
who is running out of alibis.
2006 Creators Syndicate