Thursday, January 27, 2005

Some Tyrants Are Elected

Before we declare victory on the basis of an election, on this Holocaust Remembrance Day, we should remember that Hitler came to power by the ballot. It was the government of Rwanda that incited their genocide. Vladimir Putin won election by a landslide and is using his popularity to democratically restrict human rights. Democracy requires knowledge, vigilance and courage. Inattention, ignorance and fear lead to disaster that sometimes may be worse because of Democracy's potential for good.

Elections: Bush Portrays Iraq Vote as Step in a Global March to Freedom

Washington Memo: Communicator in Chief Keeps the Focus on Iraq Positive

A Speech About Nothing, Something, Everything

Iraqi ex-pat organization overestimates voter enthusiasm

No one was more surprised by President Bush's sweeping view of America's mission in the world in his Inaugural Address Thursday than some of the conservatives who supported him precisely because of his Reaganesque vision. During the campaign, they cheered wildly when Mr. Bush talked about "the transformational power of liberty."

But on Thursday he went far beyond campaign fare, leaving Teddy Roosevelt's big stick and Woodrow Wilson's idealism in the dust as he said, "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."

What he didn't say, in a speech that used the word freedom 27 times in about 20 minutes, was exactly when, where and how he would intervene on liberty's behalf. Exceptionally vague and without a time frame, the standards Mr. Bush set Thursday allow him enormous running room. The White House declined the next day to put specific countries into ther speech's specific categories, saying only that Mr. Bush was laying down broad goals and hoping other nations would conduct some self-examination.

It was too much for some of Mr. Bush's supporters: Peggy Noonan, the former Reagan speechwriter who worked for the Bush campaign, called it "mission inebriation."

Indeed, any tyrant left untoppled in the next four years can be described as what the president called the "work of generations." Meanwhile, the goal of ending tyranny is available as a retroactive rationale for the war in Iraq, where Americans were originally told that weapons stocks were the primary justification for war. It can also be the predicate, should Mr. Bush need one, for action in Iran or North Korea, where even many critics of the Iraq war acknowledge there is a real nuclear threat.…


con·cept: Some Tyrants Are Elected