Bush’s freedom vs. Obama’s multiculturalism

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By Victor Davis Hanson

Let us be honest. Most of George Bush’s admirable support — as voiced in his 2005 inaugural address — for freedom abroad was de facto abandoned by 2006-7. Condoleeza Rice had championed Egyptian dissidents, but within a year that advocacy was dropped and we were back to the Mubarak paradigm as usual.

Why? Apparently even talking about a move to consensual government in the Middle East, here and abroad, had raised the specter of another bloody Iraq. “Neocon” was tantamount to child molester in the American parlance. Although the effort to depose Saddam and stay on to help implement democracy — that, in fact, had triggered the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, the sudden arrest of Dr. Khan in Pakistan, and the surrender of a massive WMD program in Libya — was still alive, it was now mired in the Iraq insurgency of 2006. As domestic opposition grew, as the Republicans lost the House, and as moderate Arab authoritarian regimes sighed relief at the U.S. stasis, realists gained the upper hand. So in the waning days of the Bush presidency, pressuring our friends to evolve was dropped in favor of begging them not to actively oppose our one-time efforts in Iraq.

And whereas Bushites accepted that the liberal opposition at home had demagogued Iraq, they still dreamed on that Democrats would at least support the Bush idea of voicing solidarity elsewhere for dissidents abroad. That too was mistaken. The left saw the end of Bush politically as far more important than expressing any shared support for the president’s liberal agenda overseas. How odd that the right wing was tired of the old Middle East authoritarian shakedown (e.g. “pay up since only I stand between you and the Muslim Brotherhood”) while the left wing was apparently not.

But that said, for five years Bush at least dropped the adage “at least he is our SOB,” and instead almost 24/7 declared that freedom was a transcendent value that all humans aspired to, even in oppressive political and religious climates. Mark him as naïve; remind us that he was in thrall to the dreaded “neocons”; say what you will, but his legacy may still be the end of a murderous Saddam and a constitutional state in the most unlikely place in the heart of the ancient caliphate — a stunning seven-year-long survival of consensual government that continues to ripple out, as we see today.
. . . . Obama was Bush’s antithesis and defined himself as resetting everything that Bush had envisioned, clueless that that meant in Pavlovian fashion opposing all the good that Bush had done as well. He canceled support for Egyptian dissidents. He all but gave a green light for the theocrats to crush the Iranian dissidents. He was harder on Israel than on Syria. He was far more interested in either apologizing for the United States, trashing the Iraq war, or offering fairy stories about the Islamic roots of Western civilization than simply expressing support for consensual government in the Middle East.

. . . . Where did multiculturalism come from? It is a bastard child of Marxism, of course, inasmuch as it is anti-capitalist and judges left-wing or pseudo-left-wing totalitarians far less harshly than right-wing authoritarians (e.g., Obama is more sympathetic to the crowds in Cairo than he was to those in Teheran).

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