Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Four More Years
Although it is a rare day that Airstrip One can offer a corporate opinion I think that there is one that we can offer with complete confidence - George Bush may be a lazy (ex) alcoholic who's dragged us into a couple of really messy situations but he's better for Britain than the alternative, JFK.
Let's look at Bush's "bad" points:
1) He's stupid. Well not so much stupid (his IQ is actually quite high) but rather intellectually lazy. That's not so bad, as Reagan was in some respects also intellectually lazy and whatever one thinks of his politics you'd have to be rather brave to say that he was inneffective. As a general rule energetic politicians are to be treated with more suspicion than lazy ones.
2) He dragged us into Afghanistan. What else could any American administration do after 9-11 but strike at Al Qaeda? There may be an argument that a bit of patience would have wrinkled out Al Qaeda out of Afghanistan in the same way it had out of Sudan, but the essential argument - that Al Qaeda and it's bases needed to be attacked was basically sound from the American point of view. It was not a good move for us, but that is our fault. Our leaders, from all main parties, are simply unable to see Britain as an independent actor and so can only conceive of British foreign policy in a supporting role. The British people do not punish their ruling classes for this sin. But this in no way can be put down to Bush, and in no way would a Kerry presidency be different.
3) He dragged us into Iraq. This was far worse from an American perspective, and although Kerry voted for this stupid adventure it is fairly safe to say that a Democratic president would not have shared the Bush dynasty's obsession with Saddam. However the British participation is the fault of the short sighted British political classes and not of Bush.
4) He surrounds himself with neoconservatives. This is at first a damning indictment of Bush. Neocons may be individually quite bright but as a corporate body they are stupid, stupid, stupid. Who really believes that you can bring in a constitutionally balanced democracy in an Arab country? Why the neocons. Who believes that one-man-one-vote systems will produce more moderate regimes in Islamic countries (at least in the first twenty years) rather than dictatorial strongmen? Why the neocons? Who believes that American support for Israel does not bring an increased risk of terrorism? Well it all gets a bit repetetive. Suffice to say if there's a stupid opinion going about the Middle East it's more than likely a neocon idea. However the question needs to be addressed, why are they so stupid? It is precisely because they are not really that Conservative. The corpus of the neo-conservative movement comes from the Trotskyite movement in the 1930s and almost all of them were liberals. They have a largely liberal (not to say Marxist) world view about the applicability of democracy everywhere and how the political environment can magically make people better. Does anyone really believe that a liberal Democrat will be any less, well, liberal?
5) He's introduced steel tarrifs, etc. Can someone please demonstrate how a Democrat is somehow going to be more economically literate than a Republican.
6) He's not stood up to the IRA. We didn't ask him to. And Kerry will be far, far worse. Just think Clinton, but with a twenty year backlog of political favours to the Boston Irish.
7) He's not taken us out of Europe. We can make that complaint when we try to get out. And a multilateralist like Kerry will be instinctively far more attracted to Europe than Bush.
8) He's too close to Blair. Wait till Kerry gets elected, and see how Blair will suck up.
The biggest lesson is this, we can't blame our foreign policy failings on politicians from other countries. It is our politicians who are the failures. The inability to see a future for Britain out of the slipstream of America or the Franco-German axis is not Bush's fault, it's ours.
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