Highlights

 
Quotable
The Atomic Age is here to stay--but are we?
Bennett Cerf
Original Blog US Casualties Contact Donate

 
September 11, 2006

America's Ideologue in Chief


by Patrick J. Buchanan

"The war we fight today is more than a military conflict," said President Bush to the American Legion. "It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century."

But if the ideology of our enemy is "Islamofascism," what is the ideology of George W. Bush? According to James Montanye, writing in The Independent Review, it is "democratic fundamentalism." Montanye borrows Joseph Schumpeter's depiction of Marxism to describe it.

Like Marxism, he writes, democratic fundamentalism "presents, first, a system of ultimate ends that embody the meaning of life and are absolute standards by which to judge events and actions; and, secondly, a guide to those ends which implies a plan of salvation and the indication of the evil from which mankind, or a chosen section of mankind, is to be saved. … It belongs to that subgroup [of 'isms'] which promises paradise this side of the grave."

Ideology is substitute religion, and Bush's beliefs were on display in his address to the Legion, where he painted the "decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century" in terms of good and evil.

"On the one side are those who believe in the values of freedom … the right of all people to speak, and worship, and live in liberty. And on the other side are those driven by the values of tyranny and extremism, the right of a self-appointed few to impose their fanatical views on all the rest."

Casting one's cause in such terms can be effective in wartime. In his Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural, Lincoln converted a war to crush Southern secession into a crusade to end slavery and save democracy on earth.

Wilson recast a European war of imperial powers as a " war to end war" and "make the world safe for democracy." FDR and Churchill in the Atlantic Charter talked of securing "the Four Freedoms," but were soon colluding to hand over Eastern Europe to the worst tyrant and mass murderer of the 20th century.

The peril of ideology is that it rarely comports with reality and is contradicted by history, thus leading inevitably to disillusionment and tragedy. Consider but a few of the assertions in Bush's address.

Said Bush, we know by "history and logic" that "promoting democracy is the surest way to build security." But history and logic teach, rather, what George Washington taught: The best way to preserve peace is to be prepared for war and to stay out of wars that are none of the nation's business.

"Democracies don't attack each other or threaten the peace," said Bush. How does he then explain the War of 1812, when we went to war against Britain, when she was standing up to Napoleon? What about the War Between the States? Were not the seceding states democratic? What about the Boer War, begun by the Brits? What about World War I, fought between the world's democracies, which also happened to be empires ruling subject peoples?

In May 1901, a 26-year-old Tory member of Parliament rose to issue a prophetic warning: "Democracy is more vindictive than Cabinets. The wars of peoples will be more terrible than the wars of kings." Considering the war that came in 1914 and the vindictive peace it produced, giving us Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, and Hitler, was not Churchill more right than Bush?

"Governments accountable to the people focus on building roads and schools – not weapons of mass destruction," said Bush. But is it not the democracies – Israel, India, Britain, France, the United States – that possess a preponderance of nuclear weapons? Are they all disarming? Were not the Western nations first to invent and use poison gas and atom bombs?

Insisting it is the lack of freedom that fuels terrorism, Bush declares, "Young people who have a say in their future are less likely to search for meaning in extremism." Tell it to Mussolini and the Blackshirts. Tell it to the Nazis, who loathed the free republic of Weimar, as did the communists.

"Citizens who can join a peaceful political party are less likely to join a terrorist organization." But the West has been plagued by terrorists since the anarchists. The Baader-Meinhoff Gang in Germany, the Red Brigades in Italy, the Puerto Ricans who tried to kill Harry Truman, and the London subway bombers were all raised in freedom.

"Dissidents with the freedom to protest around the clock," said the president, "are less likely to blow themselves up at rush hour." But Hamas and Islamic Jihad resort to suicide bombing because they think it a far more effective way to overthrow Israeli rule than marching with signs.

What Bush passed over in his speech is that it is the autocratic regimes in Cairo, Riyadh, and Amman that hold back the pent-up animosity toward America and Israel, and free elections that have advanced Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power.

In Iraq, we see the inevitable tragedy of ideology, of allowing some intellectual construct, not rooted in reality, to take control of the minds of men.

COPYRIGHT CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.


comments on this article?
 
 
Archives

  • Can Uncle Sam Ever Let Go? 
    3/27/2009

  • Of Patriots and Assassins
    3/17/2009

  • Return of the War Party
    2/27/2009

  • The Long Retreat
    2/20/2009

  • Obama and the Great Game
    2/13/2009

  • A Bibi-Barack Collision?
    1/27/2009

  • Is Ehud's Poodle Acting Up?
    1/17/2009

  • Bush, Obama, and
    the Gaza Blitz
    12/30/2008

  • Obama's War
    12/19/2008

  • Can This Marriage Last?
    12/5/2008

  • The Rationale of Terror
    12/2/2008

  • Meeting Medvedev Halfway
    11/25/2008

  • Liquidating the Empire
    10/14/2008

  • An Amicus Brief for Neville
    9/30/2008

  • And None Dare Call It Treason
    8/22/2008

  • Who Started Cold War II?
    8/19/2008

  • Blowback From Bear-Baiting
    8/15/2008

  • Obama's War?
    7/29/2008

  • Honorable Exit From Empire
    7/25/2008

  • A Phony Crisis –
    and a Real One
    7/15/2008

  • No More Blank Checks for War
    7/11/2008

  • Who's Planning Our Next War?
    6/27/2008

  • Hitchens Demands an
    Eye for an Eye
    6/25/2008

  • Was the Holocaust Inevitable?
    6/20/2008

  • Is Bush Becoming Irrelevant?
    5/30/2008

  • Bush Plays the Hitler Card
    5/20/2008

  • Is It Jaw-Jaw or War-War?
    5/6/2008

  • Petraeus Points to War With Iran
    4/11/2008

  • Was WWII Really 'The Good War'?
    4/4/2008

  • Should We Fight for South Ossetia?
    4/1/2008

  • Does Balkanization Beckon Anew?
    2/19/2008

  • Blowback From Moscow
    11/30/2007

  • Is World War III on Hold?
    11/13/2007

  • Is a Vote for Rudy a Vote for War?
    11/9/2007

  • Who Restarted the Cold War?
    10/19/2007

  • Infantile Nation
    9/25/2007

  • Is Terrorism a Mortal Threat?
    9/21/2007

  • Stopping the Next War
    9/14/2007

  • Phase III of Bush's War
    9/1/2007

  • Has Bush Boxed Himself In?
    8/28/2007

  • Onward – Into Waziristan!
    8/3/2007

  • Hillary's Late Hit
    7/27/2007

  • This Is How Empires End
    7/20/2007

  • Tonkin Gulf II and
    the Guns of August?
    7/17/2007

  • How Scooter Skated
    7/6/2007

  • The Retreat of the Old Bulls
    6/29/2007

  • The Martyr of Mosul
    6/22/2007

  • On the Escalator to War With Iran
    6/15/2007

  • Who Lost Russia?
    6/5/2007

  • Does 'The Decider'
    Decide on War?
    5/30/2007

  • Why Congress Caved to Bush
    5/25/2007

  • But Who Was Right – Rudy or Ron?
    5/18/2007

  • Dying for...Estonia?
    5/4/2007

  • Wolfie's Piggy Bank
    4/17/2007

  • What a Lack of Courage Cost
    4/10/2007

  • Magnanimous Mahmoud
    4/7/2007

  • Interventions Without End?
    3/27/2007

  • Pelosi's Capitulation
    3/20/2007

  • Does Putin Not Have a Point?
    2/13/2007

  • Is Bombing Iran Bush's Call?
    2/9/2007

  • Hysteria at Herzliya
    1/31/2007

  • The Ideologue
    1/25/2007

  • The X Factor in 2008 – Iran
    1/23/2007

  • See the Superpower Run
    1/19/2007

  • Mr. Bush, Meet Walter Jones
    1/16/2007

  • Patrick J. Buchanan was twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the Reform Party’s candidate in 2000. He is also a founder and editor of the new magazine, The American Conservative. Now a commentator and columnist, he served three presidents in the White House, was a founding panelist of three national television shows, and is the author of seven books.

    Reproduction of material from any original Antiwar.com pages
    without written permission is strictly prohibited.
    Copyright 2017 Antiwar.com