September 25, 2012
If the probable or inevitable result of dethroning dictator-allies is to raise to power Islamist enemies, why help dethrone the dictators?
During the Cold War, the United States took its friends where it found them. If they were willing to cast their lot with us, from the Shah to Gen. Pinochet, we welcomed them. Democratic dissidents like Jawaharlal Nehru in India and Olof Palme in Sweden got the back of our hand.
During the Cold War and World War II, the critical question was not whether you came to power through free elections—after all, Adolf Hitler did that—but are you with us or against us?
Ideology, as Russell Kirk admonished us, is political religion, and democracy worship is a form of idolatry, the worshiping of a false god, a golden calf, an idol.
And—while this may border on a hate crime—some countries are unfit for democracy. As Edmund Burke remonstrated: “It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”
With hatred of America rampant across the Arab and Islamic world, we face anew a defining moment. What now is our mission in the world? What now should be the great goal of U.S. foreign policy?
What global objective should we pursue with our trillion-dollar defense, intel and foreign aid budgets, and pervasive diplomatic and military presence on every continent and in most countries of the world? Bush I’s New World Order is history, given our strategic decline and the resistance of Russia, China and the Islamic world.
Bush II’s democracy crusade and Obama’s embrace of the Arab Spring have unleashed and empowered forces less receptive to America’s wishes and will than the despots and dictators deposed with our approval.
All three visions proved to be illusions. With America headed for bankruptcy, with new debt of $1 trillion piled up each year, perhaps John Quincy Adams’s counsel may commend itself to a country weary from a century of crusades.
“America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”