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Sunday, November 27, 2005

George W. Bush: Liberal Internationalist

American politics has become so personal and nasty largely due to the behavior of the President's own party during the 1990s that few Journalists or members of the public are willing to attribute any ideological label to the President other than "Conservative". However a close examination of the Bush record will indicate that he is the most liberal American President in International Affairs since Jimmy Carter and possibly since Woodrow Wilson.

President Bush and his neo-con friends have little in common with the conservative wing of the Republican party that features isolationists such a Pat Buchanan, Israel baiters such as Columnist Robert Novak, and tough unilateralists such as Ronald Reagan. Under Bush's watch America has ceded world leadership to mixture of international organizations and adversarial second tier powers such as France, Germany, Russia and China.

Bush's world view resembles that of Woodrow Wilson in several ways. Like Wilson, Bush has forcefully advocated the international order and alliance building through a set of treaties and agreement. Like Wilson, and unlike most American's of Wilson's time Bush is an unabashed free trader, and was as Governor of Texas very open and cordial with the leadership in neighboring Mexico. Bush was so friendly with the Mexicans he strongly rejected the conservative attempts to stop free public education for the children of illegal immigrants, which passed in California as proposition 209 and whose leadership in Florida were strong supporters of Pat Buchanan.

Unlike Wilson, Bush believes in nation building contrary to his campaign promises of 2000. In 1919 Woodrow Wilson rejected European efforts to get the United States to occupy Constantinople, the capital of the defeated Ottoman Turkish Empire (Turkey had been an ally of Germany during the first world war and had been defeated by the British and Arab forces after a four year struggle: American soldiers had never taken part in war against Turkey, and thus Wilson stayed out of the region.) The British, the French and the Greeks then attempted on their own to redraw the boundaries of the previously mighty Turkish state, which led us to the current state of affairs in the Middle East. The current Iraq had never been a nation previously and had been under Turkish rule since the late 1400s, something the British failed to recognize when drawing the new international boundaries. Much like American efforts to divide Korea after World War II along the 38th parallel, the division of territory was to be ill fated, as was any British occupation of the region.

Neo-Conservatism, which George W. Bush and his followers subscribe to is actually a revised form of classic liberalism. Like liberalism, Neo-Conservatism seeks to promote Democracy at all all costs even if it undermines American interests and security as it clearly does in Iraq. Bush and the neo-conservatives have also in the liberal tradition, advocated an open immigration policy including amnesty for illegal aliens which puts Bush and his cadre at direct odds with the conservative wing of the Republican party. In dealing with the two greatest threats to American security from rogue nations, Bush and his allies have punted the ball, trying to force multilateral talks with North Korea and allowing the Europeans and the United Nations to take the lead on dealing with Iran. Both policies could have dangerous, if not catastrophic consequences for the United States.

With regards to North Korea, Bush and his administration are counting on the Chinese to protect American interests in the region, a very region where China is on a daily basis threatening American interests both politically and economically. In Iran, Bush has counted on European nations that his administration insulted in the lead up of the Iraq war to reign in the rogue and terrorist supporting regime in Tehran. Moreover, Iran has been strengthened in the region thanks to American intervention in Iraq. Now Iran, the most anti-American state in the Middle East (which by the way is a limited Democracy) has a staging ground for anti-American activities in a nation currently occupied by American forces! How's that for irony! Iran continues to export terrorism into Europe, the former Soviet Union, the Indian subcontinent and Central Asia. Yet thanks to Bush's liberal worldview, America is neutered in facing this very real threat.

Bush's worldview of promoting Democracy and open borders for immigration and trade are in the style of classic liberalism but not in accordince with America's conservative tradition nor our current national security interests. While Bush and his cadre may be idealists of the highest order, they are far from being the conservative guardians of the American way that they have portrayed publicly.


Anonymous said...

While this blog is focused on foreign affairs, it is also important to note that Bush has abandoned traditional conservatism at home.

Traditional conservatives believe that citizens have a responsibility to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and fix their own lives. If those citizens fail, well too bad. That's the conservativism that Goldwater and Reagan promoted.

Bush has denounced Goldwater/Reagan conservatism and has instead advocated a new liberal view for his party. The best example is his faith-based programs, which essentially establish a parallel welfare-state, similar to that created by LBJ.

While I have strong concerns over both LBJ's government welfare system and with Bush's faith-based welfare state, I would prefer LBJ's version because it maintains accountability. Bush's system provides for the government to write blank checks to church groups who provide social programs, while eliminating the citizens' ability through their representatives to hold those quasi-government agencies accountable for their actions. This is just irresponsible.

Obviously, the country was much better off under Clinton's moderate foreign policy versus Bush's liberal foreign policy, and the same could be said for our domestic policy. While Clinton demanded accountability and cut the purse strings on government programs that served little use, Bush has become the biggest tax and spend politician since LBJ.

Anonymous said...

Bush a liberal? How stupid.

Matt said...

Are you crazy?????? Stop over analyzing things. Bush is a hard core Conservative any way you look at it.

Joe said...

Very good points. Few in the media would atribute the tem liberal to Bush and his cronies, but guys like Wolfowitz, Pearle and Bill Kristol have an idealistic world view as you said that is also somewhat Isreal-centric. Now I'm a supporter of Israel also, but I'm more concerned about defending America than Israel. Wolfowitz, Bush and Pearle seem more concerned about defending Israel than the USA at times.

Kartik said...

The whole issue of Israel has been seized upon by Pat Buchanan and other wackos.

The reality is that Bush has very little consistency in his policy. On Russia, and North Korea he is showing a basic cowardice, and in other areas he behaves like a Reaganesque Cowboy. Clearly he is not ideological and that is why we are in the mess we are in all over the globe. If our policy were consistent and made sense maybe people would respect us ever if they disagree with us, but this administration has been all over the map literally and cannot dig its way out of the hole it is in.

Anonymous said...

This is crazy. Bush is nothing but a conservative. To even attribute liberalism to him is flat out nuts. Bush doesn't have a liberal or idealist bone in his body. He stole an election, tries to imprison woman by opposing choice and opposes any progressive reforms related to labor, the environment or family services.

Maybe you are just too far to the right and ought to switch parties, Buchanan boy.

Joe said...

Check out the article on CNN about Powell's former chief of staff attacking Rumsfeld and Cheney.

Jeb in 2008 said...

Bush is no liberal..... he is traditional conservative, but who cares about labels. He is doing the job in face of vicious opposition from the left wing media and the Democratic Party who would rather side with France than our own nation. Perhaps the Democrats should all kove to France, and we can have America for Americans!

Mark said...

Tommy (Jeb in 2008) hasn't had his own thought in years. Way to read off the RNC talking points as you type. (Kind of sad.)

This blog makes some good points. Bush is not a traditional conservative. When he campaigned in 2000, he said that he opposed nation-building and American militarism in cases of genocide. That is conservatism! But Bush has flip-flopped on foreign policy.

Now, as I know you are reading off the RNC talking points, you are supposed to reply, "Well, 9/11 changed everything!" This is true. 9/11 changed Bush from a traditional conservative to a liberal neo-con.

And lay off the cry-baby routine about the liberal media. You guys have looked stupid crying over that one for years. The liberal media complaint was started by the original GOPussy, Ronald Reagan. No one takes that accusation seriously anymore, and more people are starting to realize that if the corporate-run media has any bias, it is actually to the right. But you don't hear liberals complaining - why don't you Republicans try being real men once in a while? Give it a rest.

And to the leftie who read off of Michael Moore's talking points about how "conservative" Bush is, you're just as stupid as Tommy. Just because Tommy and the Republicans talk without knowing their subject, doesn't mean you should do it too!

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I am the host of the Major League Soccer Talk and EPL Talk Podcasts and am frequent guest on other (world) football shows. I am also the publisher of various other websites including this one. I work in public/government relations in addition to my soccer work and have a keen interest in history, politics, aviation, travel,and the world around us.