Friday, April 15, 2005

The "Wise People"

In his latest National Review Online column, Victor Davis Hanson takes on the foreign policy "experts" whose shrill criticism of the Bush Administration is matched only by their dismal record dealing with the Middle East while in office:

Brent Scowcroft predicted on the eve of the Iraqi elections that voting there would increase the risk of civil war. Indeed, he foresaw “a great potential for deepening the conflict.” He also once assured us that Iraq “could become a Vietnam in a way that the Vietnam war never did.” Did he mean perhaps worse than ten years of war and over 50,000 American dead, with the Cambodian holocaust next door?

Zbigniew Brzezinski feared that we could not do what we are in fact presently doing in Iraq: “I do not think we can stay in Iraq in the fashion we’re in now…If it cannot be changed drastically, it should be terminated.” He added ominously that it would take 500,000 troops, $500 billion, and resumption of the military draft to achieve security in Iraq. Did he mean Iraq needed more American troops than did the defense of Europe in the Cold War?

Madeleine Albright, while abroad, summed up the present American foreign policy: “It's difficult to be in France and criticize my government. But I'm doing so because Bush and the people working for him have a foreign policy that is not good for America, not good for the world.” Elections in Afghanistan and Iraq, troops out of Saudi Arabia, democratic demonstrations in Lebanon, West Bank voting, promises of change in Egypt — all that and more is “not good for the world”?

For the last year, such well-meaning former "wise people" have pretty much assured us that the Bush doctrine will not work and that the Arab world is not ready for Western-style democracy, especially when fostered through Western blood and iron.

But too often we discuss the present risky policy without thought of what preceded it or what might have substituted for it. Have we forgotten that the messy business of democracy was the successor, not the precursor, to a litany of other failed prescriptions? Or that there were never perfect solutions for a place like the Middle East — awash as it is in oil, autocracy, fundamentalism, poverty, and tribalism — only choices between awful and even more awful? Or that September 11 was not a sudden impulse on the part of Mohammed Atta, but the logical culmination of a long simmering pathology? Or that the present loudest critics had plenty of chances to leave something better than the mess that confronted the United States on September 12? Or that at a time of war, it is not very ethical to be sorta for, sorta against, kinda supportive, kinda critical of the mission — all depending on the latest sound bite from Iraq?

Please read it all:

Our Not-So-Wise Experts


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