Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Thinking through the "Forward Strategy of Freedom"

Jennifer Snow is defending Jack Wakeland's premise:

Mr. Wakeland's support of Bush's "Forward Strategy of Freedom", in my understanding, is based on the fact that it means Bush has recognized two truths: that the real battle here is an ideological one, and that we have to stick with it until we win. While Bush hasn't been fantastic about finding and applying the correct strategies to realize either of these goals, he HAS been consistent in maintaining that there is an ideological battle and that we have to stick with it. In that respect, his floundering efforts deserve our support.
I disagree with Ms. Snow's assessment here (as well as other parts of her larger argument). You cannot have the president cast Islam as the religion of peace and then say he understands the ideological battle. Nor is there anything in the Forward Strategy of Freedom that casts this battle in the terms it deserves to be cast; that is, to pit reason and egoism against mysticism and barbarity. To do that, the Forward Strategy of Freedom would have to embrace secularism and individual rights in favor of literal democracy, and it doesn't. I think the Afghani and Iraqi constitutions prove my point.

At root, I think the Forward Strategy of Freedom is the "White Man's Burdon" redressed in American clothes. As I read it, the Forward Strategy of Freedom is saying little more than if we give the uncivilized barbarians of the world democracies, hopefully they won't try to kill us anymore.

Yet consider the fact that the key Forward Strategy of Freedom claim that "democracies" don't kill their neighbors rang false on the news we heard just this week. Notice how utterly stunned President Bush seemed upon learning that an Afghani court was going to kill one of its citizens for the crime of apostasy. According to Ayn Rand, a nation that is willing to murder its own people is also willing to murder you just as fast, yet here we have a US created democracy tottering on the verge of mystically-inspired. So much for "freedom" or a legitimate strategy to protect American lives.

Yet despite the Forward Strategy of Freedom plainly flawed premise, it nevertheless commits the US to fight to bring democracy to the middle east--democracies that vote themselves into Islamic theocracies and let the Sharia guide them. That is a flawed vision if I ever saw one--one that Objectivists should attack with full force.

Update: I forgot to mention this in the haste to get outside and enjoy a nice spring day--Snow's other assessment against my position is that, well, Bush is the best we got, so I should simply cheer up and support his "tentative first steps in the right direction."

No thanks. If Bush is tentative about defending my life, I’d rather call him (and the culture that elected him) on the substantive, philosophic problem I have with such a position rather than fake a happy face.

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