Bush proclaimed in his inaugural address that the central purpose of his second term would be the promotion of democracy "in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world" — a key neoconservative goal. Suddenly, the neocons were ascendant again.Traditional conservatives are not happy:
"This is real neoconservatism," said Robert Kagan, a foreign policy scholar who has been a leading exponent of neocon thinking — and who sometimes has criticized the administration for not being neocon enough. "It would be hard to express it more clearly. If people were expecting Bush to rein in his ambitions and enthusiasms after the first term, they are discovering that they were wrong."
"If Bush means it literally, then it means we have an extremist in the White House," said Dimitri Simes, president of the Nixon Center, a conservative think tank that reveres the less idealistic policies of Richard Nixon. "I hope and pray that he didn't mean it … [and] that it was merely an inspirational speech, not practical guidance for the conduct of foreign policy."Like me, some of you are probably wondering what happens to the US relationship with despots we like:
On Friday, the senior official who briefed reporters said the administration also would be pressing friendly regimes to institute democratic reforms; he mentioned Russia, China, Pakistan and Egypt "as illustrations." Much of the pressure, he said, would be private rather than public, and the administration would be careful to avoid undermining a leader like Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, whom it counts as a democratic reformer.In a different era, leaders of these countries were considered "our" bastards. When I visited the JFK Museum and Library earlier this week, many cold war-era bastards were featured prominently in various photos and exhibits, including the Shah of Iran.
The greatest US attention is going to be directed at the so-called "outposts of tyranny" identified earlier this week by Condi Rice in her opening statement:
To be sure, in our world there remain outposts of tyranny -- and America stands with oppressed people on every continent -- in Cuba, and Burma, and North Korea, and Iran, and Belarus, and Zimbabwe. The world should apply what Natan Sharansky calls the "town square test": if a person cannot walk into the middle of the town square and express his or her views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm, then that person is living in a fear society, not a free society. We cannot rest until every person living in a "fear society" has finally won their freedom.Do you suppose CNN and Fox are wondering when the fireworks begin? After all, someone may have to prepare new "march to war" graphics.