Policy or palaver?:

Policy or palaver?
:

: I applauded what George Bush said about supporting democratic movements and setting a goal and a mission of spreading freedom in the world.

I said so on Air America’s Morning Sedition yesterday — though I also quoted Zephyr Teachout when she told me that she liked what Bush said but wasn’t sure he was the president to do it.

Still, this seemed to be a speech with vision, a doctrine with courage. I was eager to see how he carried it out with North Korea, Saudi Arabia… you name the undemocratic nation.

Yet already, there’s spin from the White House — the kind of spin you see when somebody tries to pedal backwards. Howard Kurtz captures it:

You might think that calling on the United States to spread freedom around the globe and stand against tyranny might have consequences.

It was a statement of ideals.

But what does the president plan to do to carry out those ideals?

There will be no change in administration policy.

But how can Bush call for action against regimes that oppress their people and still do business with the dictators of China, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan?

The goals the president set forth can only be met over a generation, not in a year or two.

Then was the speech just meaningless rhetoric?

It was an attempt to lay out his strategic vision about moral choices.

So we shouldn’t take his words seriously?

The president believes in bold action to advance the cause of freedom.

But if he doesn’t take any practical steps, won’t he have failed to clear the bar he set for himself?

It was a statement of ideals.

And what are you going to do about it?

: UPDATE: Zephyr clarifies/amplifies in the comments:

I wasn’t nearly as optimistic as you. More precisely, I said I agreed with the spirit and goals and content of most of the speech, the kind of international, civic democratic focus that I’d like to see our country do more of — but Bush was EXACTLY the wrong person to give it. Postmodern the way CLEAR SKIES is postmodern — and then these postmodern responses reinforce it. Uggh.

  • first_real_online_law_student@yahoo.com

    According to the New York Times: Recently, a number of for-profit colleges have faced inquiries, lawsuits and other actions calling into question the way they inflate enrollment to mislead/increase the value of their parent company

  • http://RuthCalvo Ruth

    From Post editorial by David Ignatius in which he reported on an interview with the Georgian president who led his country to its present democratic government:
    What made peaceful change possible in Georgia, says Saakashvili, wasn’t American power but a network of local and international institutions and partnerships. “The resources to support change are much wider than to send troops,” he explains. “There is the Internet, TV, NGOs [nongovernmental organizations]. Americans helped us most by channeling support to free Georgian news media. That was more powerful than 5,000 Marines.”
    Later, same editorial:
    The best guidance for Bush and the neo-Wilsonians is to remember the patient, prudent struggle of the Cold War. U.S. officials had talked glibly about rolling back Soviet power until the Hungarian people tried to do just that in 1956 and America didn’t come to their aid. In a nuclear world, it was just too dangerous. That generation learned to be more careful about encouraging oppressed people to overthrow their masters — and to avoid making promises the United States couldn’t keep. What won the Cold War was the idea of freedom, to be sure, but it was coupled with a sometimes brutal pragmatism.

  • http://www.glcq.com paul_lukasiak

    I doubt that anyone with the slightest knowledge of contemporary US history can take Bush seriously.
    This administration made every effort to undermine a duly elected Venezuelan government. And it empowers people like Eliot Abrams and John Negroponte who were involved in promoting terrorism in Central America.
    This administration also prevented local elections from taking place in Iraq in the early days, and prevented an early national election in that nation.
    actions speak louder than words, and anyone who believes a word of what Bush says about “promoting freedom and democracy” has been drinking way too much of the Kool-Aid….

  • http://www.glcq.com paul_lukasiak

    I doubt that anyone with the slightest knowledge of contemporary US history can take Bush seriously.
    This administration made every effort to undermine a duly elected Venezuelan government. And it empowers people like Eliot Abrams and John Negroponte who were involved in promoting terrorism in Central America.
    This administration also prevented local elections from taking place in Iraq in the early days, and prevented an early national election in that nation.
    actions speak louder than words, and anyone who believes a word of what Bush says about “promoting freedom and democracy” has been drinking way too much of the Kool-Aid….

  • HA

    Jeff,
    You’ve heard of Afghanistan? Iraq? Ukraine? This is going to be a multi-generational struggle. We can’t do everything all at once.

  • HA

    paul_lukasiak,
    Thank God America stood for freedom in Central America against the Stalinist puppet regimes the USSR wanted to impose there. We spared the poor people of that region from living in hellholes like NK, Cuba and Vietnam.
    Now we need to support the people of Venezuala in their struggle to overthrow that communist thug Chavez who solidified his iron grip on power through a rigged election dutifilly rubber-stamped by that idiot Jimmy Carter.

  • http://oliverwillis.com Oliver

    If Afghanistan and Iraq are your examples of us brining “freedom” to anyone, the world is in for a bumpy and bloody and wrongheaded ride.

  • http://www.IsraelPundit.blogspot.com fred

    Cleopatra about
    Antony: he words me…how can anyone take with any seriousness a specch, ideal as it is, with no planned specifics, with no suggestion of how anything is to be carried out?
    Frankly, we are the creek in Afghanbistan (more poppies here and not in Flanders Field), and Iraq a mess…You can go or send your kids…I served twice now and hope my kid flees the country from guys who would send them to fight wars while the makers of wars stay home…what did we accomplish in Nam? Do I really care about Iraq since they have no WMD and no ties to OBL? 1300 Americans killed, a budget that is gone crazy, and no end in sight…for what?oil was to pay the tab, right? then why are now asking for zillions more?

  • http://peterdawson.typepad.com /pd

    Well the best that I can do is to bring you this link .. !!
    Speech Translated

  • http://www.inbb.org Zed

    I’ve been saying the same thing as Zephyr Jeff, next time feel free to quote me.

  • syn

    So, if Hussein was not a threat to America why then did Clinton and the US Congress declare war upon Hussein in 1998?
    Maybe those WMD’s are not found because they are buried under hundreds of thousands of slaughtered Iraqi lives.
    Duly-elected government in Venezuala because Carter said so? That is like saying Castro’s Cuba is a paradise because Oliver Stone said so. If it talks like a Communist, it’s a Communist.
    The one item I will agree with Norman Mailer, people spend way too much time watching TV and not enough time reading.
    Anyway you look at it, genocidal ‘peace’ is far more evil than humane war. I prefer the concept that either you are part of The Slavery Movement or you are part of The Liberty Movement. Of course, we did understand the consequences of Slavery upon innocent lives so I support Bush’s pro-Liberty/anti-Slavery movement over the horrors of the alternative.
    I consider those against the liberation of Iraq to be just like those who supported the pro-slavery movement during America’s own civil war.
    Liberty is good, Slavery is evil.

  • Zephyr

    Hey Jeff!
    I wasn’t nearly as optimistic as you. More precisely, I said I agreed with the spirit and goals and content of most of the speech, the kind of international, civic democratic focus that I’d like to see our country do more of — but Bush was EXACTLY the wrong person to give it. Postmodern the way CLEAR SKIES is postmodern — and then these postmodern responses reinforce it. Uggh.
    Z

  • Tim

    What sincere freedom loving American would NOT like the ideals expressed in Bush’s speech?
    What intelligent, informed, history aware, personality observant person could possibly think GWB is sincere, competent, capable or credible?
    No, that speech was a mea culpa attempt at rewriting a greed inspired preemptive invasion/vanity war into something that had a moral imperative behind it.
    Geez, how can anybody be so naive when the accumulation of actual performance based evidence is so weighty?
    Great ideas in the speech were they to be applied sincerely and with some actual expertise.

  • Franky

    You would think the admin would show some sort of embarrassment regarding Venezuela when more and more evidence filters out that they knew a coup was coming (is a military coup the sort of freedom bush wants to give the rest of the world?). And whatever your opinions on Chavez are, he was fairly elected to office, and then he was fairly re-elected to serve more years.
    It’s specifically a case like Veneuzela that makes me very uneasy about our intervention in other countries’ affairs. Iraq was the thin end of the wedge – start on a country that no one likes and has no popular support, but before you know it you’re trying to replace fairly elected governments because we’ve decided which governments are good and which are bad. And our government, not just this administration, has shown spectacular poor judgement in deciding what is a good government, allying ourselves with a succession of scumbags.

  • paladin

    Who does Zephyr think should have given this speech—–Howard Dean? If not GWB, then who—- John Kerry? Isn’t this just more whining from the Soreloser Party? Face it, the Democratic Party no longer supports liberal values. For the most part they have become reactionary isolationists. It’s kind of pathetic that someone like GWB has to become the standard bearer for liberal democracy—-and then gets criticised by so-called “progressives” like Teachout for his troubles.

  • John Thacker

    Like Clear Skies, eh Zephyr? So you mean that people on the Left are opposing something that would help their supposed ends because they can’t admit that something Bush is doing isn’t half bad?
    Because that’s what Clear Skies is, as the Washington Monthly (a magazine on the left) discussed.
    It’s interesting to see the semi-public disagreement between W. and his father. His father is definitely more of a go-slow realist guy. I also doubt that we have the capability to do everything everywhere, and democratization has always been a goal of US foreign policy, under all Presidents. (Look at South Korea, or Taiwan for interesting examples.) It’s merely a question of time scales, and how hard to push, and fear of blowback for interfering or of the “one vote one time” principle. The end of the Cold War has given us more freedom to push it. I’d like to think it’s part of the broad consensus of US foreign policy, exempting only some isolationists on both sides.
    Too many people find it easier to make the perfect the enemy of the good, and score cheap points by pointing on that Bush, like all Presidents and all countries, is constrained by events, by what is possible, and by realistic concerns. No, of course we’re not perfect, and we never have been.

  • John Thacker

    But a Left which says, “I like the words, now show us you mean it. We’ll support you when you live up to them, and push you to do more when you don’t,” now that’s what this country needs. We need idealism, and we need realists to temper it. We need a proper mix.
    Giving up to affect an air of cynicism will help no one.

  • Mock the Hoople

    Think of the irony, George HW Bush was criticised for NOT having the “vision thing”, and his son, George W. Bush is being criticised FOR having the “vision thing”. There’s just no pleasing some people.

  • paladin

    What Thacker said. Teachout should use what influence she has with elected Democrats to insist they hold GWB’s feet to the fire on this. It’s easy to stand on the sideline and carp, it’s tougher to put yourself on the line for something you believe in. If you believe in the vision GWB set out,make it easier for him to support his vision, not more difficult.

  • TomB

    You would think the admin would show some sort of embarrassment regarding Venezuela when more and more evidence filters out that they knew a coup was coming (is a military coup the sort of freedom bush wants to give the rest of the world?).
    So, assuming what you allege is true, and we’ve seen that that is a mighty LARGE assumption, why would the Bush administration be required to warn a regieme they don’t support?
    I also find it only slightly amusing that you could find outrage that a coup was attempted against Chavez, when he himself only came to prominence after leading an unsuccessful coup in 1992.
    Ah Franky, consistency is too seldom rewarded…
    …here’s a cookie.

  • Franky

    “Mighty large assumption”
    http://workmall.com/wfb2001/venezuela/cia_nytimes_041203.html
    I’ll await your apology.
    He staged a coup against one of Latin America’s most corrupt “democracies” (and that is saying something), and I think that was obviously wrong. He changed from that and now holds fair and open elections. The opposition doesn’t, but seeks to bring back via military force the most corrupted people that country has seen (I think much of their middle class support delude themselves about who these opposition leaders are, or are frequently just blinded by hated of Chavez for his occassionally stupidly crass remarks – on the night of the coup one such member of the opposition said: “I hated Chavez, and wanted him out, but I never wanted this”).
    Chavez has obviously changed, embracing elections and to fury of the White House and their elite group of armchair liberators, winning every election he now holds. Why would that be? Could it be that a President who attempts to do something for the poor, who make up the vast majority of Venezuela in spite of its vast oil wealth, might just find popular support? Imagine that?
    Further, a small part of the opposition are terrorists on pretty much any definition you would choose (consistency, tomb, consistency) – why would you love terrorists, tomb, why do you hate America so much?

  • TomB

    Geez, a NY Time article quoting the CIA, how could I have been so stupid?
    But my apology will wait for your correction of your borderline insane assertion that “pretty much everyone in the world said Saddam was no threat”
    As to the rest of your drivel, anyone trying that hard in one week to support Saddam Hussein AND Hugo “I love Castro” Chavez has some serious issues.
    I hope you can get help…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/4621394 Matthew Goggins

    Zephyr,
    Clear Skies has gotten a bum rap. I strongly encourage you to check out the following short piece by Gregg Easterbrook:
    http://www.tnr.com/easterbrook.mhtml?pid=1074
    Here’s an excerpt:
    All in all, Bush’s [Clear Skies initiative] sounds progressive and important. So how did the media play it? The New York Times, which has had the incredible, super-ultra menace of Midwest power plants on page one perhaps a dozen times since Bush took office, put the plan to end the problem on page A24. The Times story was a small box cryptically headlined. “E.P.A. Drafts New Rules for Emissions From Power Plants.” The Washington Post put the story on page two but under the headline, “E.P.A. Aims to Change Pollution Rules,” suggesting something ominous, adding the subhead, “Utilities Could Buy Credits From Cleaner-Operating Power Plants,” neglecting to add that credits could be purchased only if the result was an overall decline in pollution.
    The proper placement for this story was page one–where the anti-Bush environmental stories always run–and the proper headline was, BUSH ORDERS DRAMATIC POLLUTION REDUCTION. But you didn’t see that, did you?
    I think you owe it to your current employer [Harvard U.] to discover the veritas behind Clear Skies!

  • Franky

    That’s the reaction I would expect from a man who posts an image of a painting juxtaposing Saddam and the Twin Towers burning as his evidence of links between the two. Seriously, if you just read a little before you post, you’ll find it much more rewarding to discuss subjects

  • http://mossback.org Richard Bennett

    Lefties are so arrogant it hurts to listen to their robotic phrasings. The people of the United States have decided that George W. Bush is EXACTLY the man to carry out his agenda, Zephyr, regardless of what the members of your elite minority may say.
    We call it “democracy” and it’s all about respecting the People; the common, ordinary, working People as well as the elite hive-minded people.

  • TomB

    Speaking of reading a little, this is what I wrote immediately AFTER the link to the picture:
    “And it was Saddam was connected with Al Qeada. There is, of course, a difference. Your bait and switch doesn’t work around here.”
    I was pointing out the pathetic game you lefties were playing during the election, trying to make Hussein’s connection to Al Qaeda (which nobody in their right mind, including the 9-11 comission would deny) interchagable with 9-11.
    Yes, I believe Hussien was at least indirectly involved with 9-11, but I also acknowledge (and did so in that thread) that there isn’t enough evidence in the world to “convince” people like you of that fact.

  • Franky

    Richard,
    No one denies that Bush won the election (except the really desperate), but that victory does not shield him from legitimate criticism of whether he can, or indeed intends, to carry out his agenda. When Clinton won, that didn’t shield him from the avalanche of legitimate criticisms of his character and various shady dealings. I can understand your anger at knee-jerk “Bush-Hitler” comments, but don’t tar legitimate considered criticism with that faction.

  • http://mossback.org Richard Bennett

    Franky, when I see some legitimate criticism, I’ll acknowledge it. Zephyr’s remarks about Bush being the wrong president to promote a democracy agenda, coupled with her ignorance of Clear Skies, her arrogance, and her history of bribing pundits to advance her agenda in an anti-democratic fashion pretty well disqualify any criticism from that quarter from being considered legitimate.

  • Faramin

    HA
    Now we need to support the people of Venezuala in their struggle to overthrow that communist thug Chavez who solidified his iron grip on power through a rigged election dutifilly rubber-stamped by that idiot Jimmy Carter.
    Obvioulsy, your comment cannot be considered anything but a joke. Yeah, if any election does not result in the victory of the pro-Americans, it must be rigged election.
    By the way, by “Liberating” central America, you meant using of the death squads against thousands of people. Right?

  • HA

    Oliver,
    If Afghanistan and Iraq are your examples of us brining “freedom” to anyone, the world is in for a bumpy and bloody and wrongheaded ride.
    So in your mind, deposing the Taliban and Saddam did not bring more freedom for the Afghans and Iraqis? Think before you type, Oliver.
    Anybody who listens to your sponsored opinion is in for a bumpy and wrongheaded ride.

  • HA

    Faramin,
    Yeah, if any election does not result in the victory of the pro-Americans, it must be rigged election.
    No, many anti-Americans are legitimately elected. Zapo’s election in Spain is an example. But Chavez’s election has been proven to be rigged and Carter has discredited himself even further by certifying it.
    As for the Central American death squads, if that was what it took to prevent the installation of Soviet puppet regimes, so be it. As of the 1980′s Communist regimes had slaughtered over a 100 million, and enslaved billions all around the world. A few thousand dead is a small price to pay to oppose Communism.
    If death squads could have prevented the Kim regime in NK that would have been worth it. Same goes for Castro. Time will prove that it would also have been worth it in the case of the Communist thug Chavez. Bush should support ANY Venezualan opposition to Chavez regardless of their moral purity until Chavez is deposed.
    I suspect that any “election” that gives power to an anti-American thug is fine with you.

  • Franky

    Where was it proved that Chavez’s elections/referendum were rigged? (quoting the opposition in this discussion will be as useful as me quoting Castro in return – not useful at all).
    So we should support terrorists in Venezuela? I thought we were on a war against terror but really it’s just a war against countries we don’t like? That seems to be Russia/China’s modus operandi too.

  • Faramin

    HA,
    Looks like you like to come up with too many unsubstantiated claims and comments and don’t see any necessity to back up what you calim with evidence. Well, it is becomeing very normal to many right wingers.
    Unlike you, I respect the will of nations. If ANY election, results is ANYbody’s victory, I am fine with that, even if that ANYBODY is a US puppet. If a nation wants to truly ELECT a puppet, who I am to like it or not? You too, better start thinking democratically and respect the wishes of nations, your beloved death squads do not transale to the meaning of democracy.

  • HA

    Faramin,
    Don’t lecture me about democracy you gulag-loving marxist. If you had any respect for the wishes of nations, you would admit Chavez rigged the “election” and that Venezualans wish to rid themselves of the Commie thug you are so enamored with. But like all marxists, you don’t give a shit about democracy or the wishes of peoples. As with ALL marxists, that high-sounding rhetoric is a facade to fool those who are ignorant of the designs of marxists and the devastation marxism invariably leaves in its wake. The only respect you have is for the power of the marxist thug to haul people off to the gulag.
    Your comments can only be based on either ignorance or malice. Here are some facts to either cure your ignorance or expose your malice. It turns out the death squads are working for YOUR guy Chavez:
    http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110005494
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/08/17/wven17.xml
    http://www.usnews.com/usnews/opinion/baroneweb/mb_040820.htm
    http://www.vcrisis.com/index.php?content=letters/200409080559
    http://www.eluniversal.com/2004/09/06/en_pol_art_06A489973.shtml

  • Faramin

    HA,
    Let me tell you a story:
    Once upon a time, when I was opposing the war and invasion of Iraq, I was being called “Saddam sympathizer”, then when I brought up many examples that Saddam was in fact US’s body for years and not mine, things changed. Then, I was started to be called Jihadist or Osama Bin Laden sympathizer. Then again when I proved that it was the US who was responsible for the growth of fundamentalism and many Bin Ladens, and when I finally mangaed (after numerous attempts) to force it into many closed brains that I was not even religious, then things changed again.
    Now, that I have spoken of Chavez, and the FACT that he was ELECTED AGAIN by his people, despite lots of criminal interference from the US, now somebody (you) has started calling me a Marxist.
    Well. Nothing new. You are just a typical example of failure. You know what? People like you make me sick. You just remind me of the fundamentalist Hezbollahis that we had in Iran, who would start calling people names and accusing people of being this or that, when they failed in civilized conversations. Congratulations for your latest upgrade to their level.
    BTW, Speaking of the gulag, you mis-spelled it. It is spelled GUANTANAMO BAY. Oh no, I don’t expect you to know what happens there.

  • HA

    Faramin,
    Let me tell you a story
    Mine eyes glazeth over. Spare me your self-indulgent trips down fantasy lane.
    Here are some more facts for you about Saddam Hussein:
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/001/837uvzrs.asp
    Turns out good ole Saddam has a marxist pedigree. No wonder you opposed the war. Sort of puts the lie to your claim that he was a US creation, don’t you agree?
    People like you make me sick
    Good. That’s what happens to posturing moral frauds such as yourself when exposed. You don’t give a damn about Iraqis, Venezualans or anybody else. You just want to project an image.
    Your easily refuted assertions are beginning to amuse me.
    BTW, Gitmo is where illegal combatants go for mercy. These vermin have no rights and the US would be acting within the laws of war to summarily execute them. Its a good thing for them we are a merciful people.
    Good night, Faramin.

  • Faramin

    HA,
    How do you know if I care about Iraqis or Venezuallan? Oh, I forgot. You have contacts with god; just like your dumb president.
    Let’s face it, people like you are not much different than the people who approved and perhaps ran gulag. I am sure they too justified the crimes which were being committed. Just like people like you do. Fascsim appears in different shapes at different times. Your mentality is a clear representation of contemporary fascism.
    Did you like the story? Read it again. You might learn something.

  • HA

    Faramin,
    How do you know if I care about Iraqis or Venezuallan?
    Because the policies you claim to support are in conflict with the actual facts and the real interests of those peoples. This proves that you are either ignorant or a moral fraud. I pick the latter since even an idiot should know by now that Iraq is better off without Saddam, and that Chavez rigged his “election.”
    I expect that your positions are motivated more by anti-American bigotry than anything else. You don’t care what harm comes to people as long as harm comes to America in the process. Deep down, people like you are driven by hatred above all. I know what you are. I’ve seen your kind before.

  • Faramin

    …since even an idiot should know by now that Iraq is better off without Saddam, and that Chavez rigged his “election.”
    Even your DEFINITION of idiot is flawed. I am sure you haven’t looked at mirror recently, otherwise you would have seen one.
    We are not tralking about our stupid dreams and wishful thinkings. We are talking about how Iraqis live now.
    No mister. In fact even idiots can see that Iraq is MUCH MUCH worse now than it was under your former criminal body, Saddam. And this assessment has nothing to do with how one sees the occupation. IT IS JUST THE RAELITY. Hellooo! You are just sooooo off from reality to see the obvious.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/4621394 Matthew Goggins

    Faramin,
    Our war in Iraq is like a complicated surgical operation on a severely chronically ill patient.
    The initial incision and Saddam-ectomy went very well. The patient, Iraq, soon experienced some complications which the surgeons are managing to the best of their ability.
    But the patient is still on the operating table, and on life support. Although he is doing pretty well for such a radical and invasive surgery, we won’t know for sure how successful the surgery will be until we are done.
    Is Iraq much, much worse? In some ways it is, but in other ways it’s much better. But in any case we’re not done yet.
    Passing judgement now is premature, although we do need to know about all the problems and re-evaluate what the best course of action is.

  • HA

    Faramin,
    In fact even idiots can see that Iraq is MUCH MUCH worse now than it was under your former criminal body, Saddam.
    If that was true, there must be a lot of idiots in Iraq:
    A large scale opinion survey in Iraq, sponsored by several foreign media networks, found that 70 percent of Iraqis thought they were doing well, and 56 percent believed life was better than before the war. Some 70 percent were optimistic about the future.
    http://www.strategypage.com/dls/articles/2004319.asp
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3514504.stm
    Every poll of Iraqi public opinion has given similar results. You are wrong yet again.

  • Faramin

    Matthew Goggins,
    Your doctor/patient/surgery analysis is very interesting. But there is one BIG PROBLEM in this comparison. Did the patient ask for this doctor’s “surgery”? Did the doctor have permission for this “surgery”?
    No? I didn’t think so too.