Was George Bush Right?

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Some
liberals have begun to wonder aloud if maybe George Bush was right
all along in his Middle East policy. You can read a gloating summary
of what some liberals have said, and how the conservatives are celebrating
an alleged victory in
an article by Jeff Jacoby
, a somewhat libertarian conservative
writer for the Boston Globe.

Here’s how his article begins:

"’It
is time to set down in type the most difficult sentence in the
English language. That sentence is short and simple. It is this:
Bush was right."

Thus
spake columnist Richard Gwyn of the Toronto Star, author
of such earlier offerings as "Incurious George W. can’t grasp
democracy," "Time for US to cut and run," and,
as recently as Jan. 25, "Bush’s hubristic world view."

The
Axis of Weasel is crying uncle, and much of the chorus is singing
from the same song sheet.

Listen
to Claus Christian Malzahn in the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel:
"Could George W. be right?" And Guy Sorman in France’s
Le Figaro: "And if Bush was right?" And NPR’s
Daniel Schorr in The Christian Science Monitor:
"The Iraq effect? Bush may have had it right." And London’s
Independent, in a Page 1 headline on Monday: "Was Bush
right after all?"

Even
Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s Daily Show and an
indefatigable Bush critic, has learned the new lyrics. "Here’s
the great fear that I have," he said recently. "What
if Bush . . . has been right about this all along? I feel like
my world view will not sustain itself and I may . . . implode."

For
those of us in the War Party, by contrast, these are heady days.
If you’ve agreed with President Bush all along that the way to
fight the cancer of Islamist terrorism is with the chemotherapy
of freedom and democracy, the temptation to issue I-told-you-so’s
can be hard to resist.

"Well,
who’s the simpleton now?" crows Max Boot in the Los Angeles
Times. "Those who dreamed of spreading democracy to the
Arabs or those who denied that it could ever happen?" On
the radio the other day, Rush Limbaugh twisted the knife: "The
news is not that Bush may have been right," he chortled.
"It’s that you liberals were wrong." The gifted Mark
Steyn, in a column subtitled, "One man, one gloat,"
writes: "’I got a lot of things wrong these last three years,
but, looking at events in the Middle East this last week . . .
I got the big stuff right."

Getting
Specific

George Bush was right about what?????

  • We’re
    not one whit safer than we were before.
  • We’re
    a whole lot less free than we were before.
  • Not one
    person, not one group, not one population in the Middle East
    is freer than two years ago.

The fact that Iraq had an election (as they did under Hussein),
or that Hosni Mubarak is thinking about letting some Egyptian
run against him and lose, or that a handful of Saudis got to vote
for some local tribesmen, or that Lebanon will be having an election
soon (they have them regularly already) doesn’t make anyone freer
than he was two years ago.

We have no more idea what will happen in those countries than Ronald
Reagan, the CIA, and the joyous hawks knew in 1989 that "mission
accomplished" Afghanistan was about to sink into a
civil war that would leave the country ruled by the Taliban
.
But this lack of knowledge of the consequences to be unleashed didn’t
stop conservatives from celebrating a great victory – prematurely,
as always.

(In Jacoby’s defense I must say that he at least acknowledges that
the final chapter hasn’t been written yet. But if that’s true, isn’t
it a bit deceptive to be celebrating now?)

The
Iraqi Lesson

As for Iraq, the election is over, but curfews remain, the checkpoints
where innocent Iraqis have been killed are still operating, the
devastation of cities hasn’t ended, the barbed wire remains around
whole cities, no one has taken responsibility for the torture and
so we can only assume it will continue, the censorship is still
in force. But we’re supposed to celebrate that "freedom is
on the march" – even though Iraqis face the same restrictions
they faced under Hussein.

"The
chemotherapy of freedom and democracy" in reality means that

100,000 Iraqis
, mostly civilians, are dead. Is that
what George Bush was right about – that the march to freedom
must trample over the dead bodies of human beings? Or don’t Iraqis
count as human beings?

The
Celebrations & the Prospects

Meanwhile, the Bush propaganda machine rolls on – celebrating
meaningless events that are supposed to be first steps toward meaningful
events. But anyone who has studied the history of government knows
that promises and first steps are worthless. I’ll celebrate when
some country is actually freer than before.

And I’ll really celebrate if that country is the United States of
America.

But since there’s little chance that Afghanistan will be free or
peaceful in the near future, very little chance that Iraq will be
free or peaceful within a few years, and only a remote chance that
any Middle Eastern country will actually be freer next year than
it is now, the Bush administration will have to turn our attention
elsewhere. And, unfortunately, that probably means invading another
country – such as Syria, Iran, or some other country that doesn’t
have the ability to put up much of a fight.

Right
or Wrong?

If Der Spiegel or Daniel Schorr or Jon Stewart wants
to ponder (not proclaim) whether Bush might have been right,
it doesn’t change reality. George Bush hasn’t been proven right
about anything. He lied us into a terrible war.

And if liberals have been wrong, it has been in going along
with too much of the Bush doctrine, and in not standing up for the
sanctity of human life.

Only libertarians have recognized that force never produces
good results. And so far they are the only ones who have been proven
right.

I’ve been wrong many times in my life, and I’ve never found it difficult
to acknowledge my mistakes – even in public, if appropriate.
But not one thing has happened so far to give me the slightest doubt
that I was right to oppose the killing of 100,000 Iraqis, to oppose
the killing of thousands of Afghans merely to
turn the country back to the war lords
, to oppose the imprisonment
and torture of Americans and foreigners who
have never been tried
or even indicted for anything, or to oppose
the many steps taken to turn
America into a police state
.

I’m sorry. Conservatives can gloat all they want. After all, it
seems to be in their nature to celebrate as done deals things that
are only promised for the future. But there’s no way to avoid the
fact that they’re supporting bloody murder, the suppression of American
liberties, and a President who has no conception whatsoever of the
history and the culture of the Middle East.

Choosing
Life or Death

Wouldn’t you think that if you were President, with a $2 trillion
budget at your disposal, you could hire the best minds in the world
to devise a less violent, more effective way of ending the terrorism
war and solving the foreign problems that may actually affect America?

Instead, we have a President who won’t look for a better way because
he relishes being the Ruler of the Universe – the man who hears
from God what’s best for each nation of the world, and who has the
power to crush any country that doesn’t obey his commands.

He may be powerful, but he isn’t right – not about anything
so far.

March
12, 2005

Harry Browne [send
him mail
], the author of Why
Government Doesn’t Work

and many other books, was the Libertarian presidential candidate
in 1996 and 2000. See his website.

Harry
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