A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Would That They Ran Wars As Well As They Write Speeches

President Bush gave an outstanding Inaugural speech. The rhetoric of it was superb. As with any really good political gesture, this speech has generated some truly radish crisp and intelligent blogger commentary. My two favorites, so far, are Mathew Yglesias and Donald Sensing.

With Reverend Sensing, I also think that the core of the speech was this phrase:

"So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."

There is absolutely nothing in the phrase that I would not agree with. It expresses my values as much as it expresses the President's values. But the President is correct that success in this is a matter for generations and not just four short years. He has had four short years, he will have four more short years.

In the last four years the sum total of our successes has been the deposition of two authoritarian regimes, at an enormous cost in money and military force, and without much indication, as yet, that this particular approach has created lasting democratic institutions in their place. And no indication, as well, that it has persuaded any country we have not invaded to become more democratic.

As a matter of practical policy, the only successful "support" from us for democratic institutions has consisted of removing tyrants by force and engaging in wars of attrition with everyone else there who does not want democratic institutions to form. So I presume, after finishing, if we ever do, in Iraq and Afghanistan, we will immediately start doing this somewhere else. Besides the money spent, which is insanely enormous, this has cost us, on average since we invaded Iraq, 500 soldiers killed, and 4000 soldiers horribly maimed, a year.

A generation is 20 years. That adds up to 10,000 soldiers killed and 80,000 without arms, legs, and even faces, for, maybe, five countries "democratized". Two generations is forty years and adds up to 20,000 dead, 160,000 pitiful cripples and 10 countries relieved of tyranny. Three generations is sixty years and 30,000 dead, 240,000 maimed, and 15 democracies flourishing.

If this is to be our "victory" over tyranny, I think our hands are too small to hold it.

George, maybe you should concentrate for the next four years on cleaning up the mess you've already made. Future generations can decide for themselves whether "forced democratization" is truly intelligent and effective foreign policy.


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