Thursday, 2 February 2006

Bush Declares Cold War II

From the State of the Union Address :
Abroad, our Nation is committed to an historic, long-term goal –: we seek the end of tyranny in our world. Some dismiss that goal as misguided idealism. In reality, the future security of America depends on it. On September 11th, 2001, we found that problems originating in a failed and oppressive state seven thousand miles away could bring murder and destruction to our country. Dictatorships shelter terrorists, feed resentment and radicalism, and seek weapons of mass destruction. Democracies replace resentment with hope, respect the rights of their citizens and their neighbors, and join the fight against terror. Every step toward freedom in the world makes our country safer, and so we will act boldly in freedom’s cause.

Far from being a hopeless dream, the advance of freedom is the great story of our time. In 1945, there were about two dozen lonely democracies on Earth. Today, there are 122. And we are writing a new chapter in the story of self-government – with women lining up to vote in Afghanistan … and millions of Iraqis marking their liberty with purple ink … and men and women from Lebanon to Egypt debating the rights of individuals and the necessity of freedom. At the start of 2006, more than half the people of our world live in democratic nations. And we do not forget the other half – in places like Syria, Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Iran – because the demands of justice, and the peace of this world, require their freedom as well.

No one can deny the success of freedom, but some men rage and fight against it. And one of the main sources of reaction and opposition is radical Islam – the perversion by a few of a noble faith into an ideology of terror and death. Terrorists like bin Laden are serious about mass murder – and all of us must take their declared intentions seriously. They seek to impose a heartless system of totalitarian control throughout the Middle East, and arm themselves with weapons of mass murder. Their aim is to seize power in Iraq, and use it as a safe haven to launch attacks against America and the world. Lacking the military strength to challenge us directly, the terrorists have chosen the weapon of fear. When they murder children at a school in Beslan … or blow up commuters in London … or behead a bound captive … the terrorists hope these horrors will break our will, allowing the violent to inherit the Earth. But they have miscalculated: We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it.

In a time of testing, we cannot find security by abandoning our commitments and retreating within our borders. If we were to leave these vicious attackers alone, they would not leave us alone. They would simply move the battlefield to our own shores. There is no peace in retreat. And there is no honor in retreat. By allowing radical Islam to work its will – by leaving an assaulted world to fend for itself – we would signal to all that we no longer believe in our own ideals, or even in our own courage. But our enemies and our friends can be certain: The United States will not retreat from the world, and we will never surrender to evil.

America rejects the false comfort of isolationism. We are the Nation that saved liberty in Europe, and liberated death camps, and helped raise up democracies, and faced down an evil empire. Once again, we accept the call of history to deliver the oppressed, and move this world toward peace.

This is no less than a formal declaration of intent - the world isn't big enough for both Dictatorships and the US, as it stands.

Now it's buried in a "State of the Union" address, with a lot of verbiage. Yet it's a declaration of intent to overthrow the governments of other nations, in the name of "Self-Defence".

"Syria, Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Iran" are specifically named.

For those who believe in the total sanctity of the current world order, where no atrocity or barbarity is too great to be tolerated, as long as it doesn't spill over national borders, this should be very worrying indeed.

To those who are afraid that the US Military will run rough-shod over everyone, then they can relax. It's a declaration of intent, just that. Any opportunity that presents itself will be taken up, but right now, no-one in the US Government has the foggiest idea how to implement the intent in detail. Military intervention in most of the places named would, today, be "counter-productive", to say the least. Military intervention should never be the first resort anyway, you always end up with innocents slain, though often not nearly as many as if you do nothing.

But it's not clear if President Bush is speaking for the US, for the US Republican Party, or just for his current Administration. Cold Wars last decades, generations, over many administrations. Even if he does elucidate a broadly bipartisan policy that may have to last 50 years or more, it's not certain that the war will be actively prosecuted throughout this period. There will be "Hudnas", "Armistices", "Periods of Detente", where one or both sides seek to reduce disadvantages or just to have a pause in the conflict, with a view to a longer-term peaceful co-existence.

The lesson of 9-11 may have to be re-learnt, just as the lesson of Pearl Harbor - that Isolationism is Not An Option - had to be re-learnt.

But as far as I know, this is the first time that US aims have been exlicity stated : to make the world safe for Democracy, not by erecting a mighty fortress that no Dictatorships can breach, but by venturing into their lairs, no matter where they are, and exterminating them. How, they don't know, and can't know. But over time, in dribs and drabs, by subversion, by diplomacy, by military action, or just by waiting till they collapse under their own weight, the US has signalled its intent.

Interesting Times.

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