Thursday, October 14

Bush goofs on Osama - but the bigger picture is clear

"By denying that he had ever minimized the threat posed by Bin Laden, Bush handed Kerry, during the very first question, the victory in the post-debate spin. The Kerry campaign's critique of the president is that he doesn't tell the truth, that he won't admit mistakes, and that he refuses to acknowledge reality. Bush's answer played into all three claims. Here's the text from the Official White House Press Releasehere's the video

The president's blunder also provided at least a glimpse of the foreign-policy debate I hoped to see. Here's a more complete version of the president's 2002 comment: "I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban." The president's philosophy toward the war on terror could not be clearer: It is a war against nation-states, not against "nonstate actors" like al-Qaida. Bin Laden was dangerous because he controlled a state, not because he controls a terrorist network."
that's from - but it links up with the long article the New York TImes Magazine just had on Bush and Kerry's Foreign Policy. In a nutshell, Bush believes in the Domino theory of democracy - that 's what his phrase "Freedom on the March" means. That, even if demoncracy is instituted at gunpoint, that country will henceforth become a progressive beacon, and turn all the countries around it towards democracy. This idiotic notion was part of the cold war mentality that brought us the horrendous catastrophe of Vietnam, but Bush's foreign policy team is still thinking along those lines. Kerry, by contast, was ahead of the game years ago -talking, writing, and ppoposing conrcrete policy based onot on nationa-ates, but on individual non-state groups and actors that were smaller, faster, less subject to diplomatic negotiation or trade pressure, and less subject to large scale military assault. Sound familiar? But Bush is back in the old world, where nation states are all that count. That's why, after he defeated the Taliban (at least temporarily) he had to find another country to attack (preferably one without nuclear weapons.)

Of course Saddam was a horrible tyrant, and maybe if Iraq can keep from sliding into chaos, it will be better that he is gone. But there are dozens of horrible tyrants all over the world - one's in Haiti right now and we installed him. We have a bad track record of doing that kind of thing when we deal with states. We need to think of this less in the grand, heroic terms of wars past, and more in terms of the mundane but crucial details of police investigations,. It's not as glamorous as war, but then again, war isn't really that glamorous either - for the people that are forced to fight it, rather than those who get to watch it on TV.