In Defense of Bush’s Second Inaugural

 

Bush_delivers_his_second_Inaugural_addressAt Ricochet’s recent Nashville Meet-up, the subject of George W. Bush’s speech came up, with — if I remember correctly* — none other than Troy Senik dismissing it as utopian. To my mind, that is precisely what inaugurals are for. I had a brief debate with Frank Soto about whether democratization of the planet would be complete within 20 years. On reflection, though, the debate missed the point. Even if it takes 40 years to bring about universal peace on an international scale, that’s the sort of grand project that benefits from markers being laid down.

I stray even further from confidence in attributing Gary McVey’s thoughts to Troy, but his this comment eloquently captures the most common reason for believing the speech to be ill-considered. “Blame Kristol and Barnes for that universal hunger for democracy line, but plenty of us believed it. Dad knew it was baloney. He was right.” This appears true at a trivial level; there are people who appear to prefer dictatorship to democracy, and they’re not all dictators (although the role and the outlook do appear to correlate).  I believe that the overwhelming bulk of humanity hears what the Inaugural called the call to freedom, but many of them also have other concerns.

Francis Fukuyama, in his Origins of Political Ordercompares and contrasts Magna Carta with Ivan the Terrible. In both instances, the nobility found itself with the power to rewrite the constitution. In England, power was tilted to the barons and, to a lesser extent, the people. In Russia, the barons chose to give up their power. Their oppression by their neighbors was so great that they willingly piled domestic oppression on their own heads in order to mitigate it. In England, peace and prosperity gave rise to a desire for decentralized power and freedom. Fukuyama emphasizes that the Russian instinct was not wholly irrational by noting that Hungary had a moment similar to the Magna Carta at about the same time. The Hungarians were not secure, and the decentralization worked out for them pretty poorly.

The justification for despots rests primarily on their protection from worse oppression, whether from environmental conditions (broadly defined) foreigners, internal strife, or crime. We live in a world, that — up until 2013 — was becoming ever more peaceful and with ever less crime. We live longer than our predecessors, whether we live in Sub-saharan Africa or Santa Monica, and have ever more control over our environment. The need for dictators is becoming ever less prominent, even as greater access to information makes democracy ever easier and more appealing. Absent some truly awful catastrophe, this seems likely to continue. The fact that the world has constantly become more free since at least the Nixon years does not appear to be coincidence. As the howls of horror decrease, the call to freedom becomes less likely to be drowned out.

This does not mean that the move towards freedom can simply be assumed. For many libertarians — links withheld to avoid personalizing the issue unless challenged in the comments — there’s a two pronged strategy for arguing this stuff. The first is that peace and freedom will inevitably expand, so we shouldn’t sweat the details or make much of an effort. The second is that there’s nothing we can do; people are intrinsically awful, so we shouldn’t sweat the details or make much of an effort.

To my mind, the best analogy is crime. Like war, it’s been declining quite some time. Like war, though, it declines because savage wars of peace are fought. Because of the Gulf War, for instance, we’ve had no non-Russian invasions of neighbors for decades, and even Russia took time to build up its courage through escalating invasions that each lacked a significant response. Like crime, many of those in the neighborhoods where the rule of law is being created strongly feel their short term incentives to have peace and feel hostile and distrustful toward the enforcers. Like crime, many liberals and libertarians claim that the enforcement is either unnecessary because it makes no difference or because the difference has already been made. Like crime, the enforcement doesn’t bring much of a net benefit in the short term; it’s the creation of a peaceful New York, or Communist bloc, or Middle East, which lags behind enforcement and ultimately (“ultimately” is not “swiftly”) allows for less enforcement. One difference is that few people claim that because hellholes of crime exist, people living in those areas must like high crime rates.

Because President Obama gave way to voices like Ted Cruz arguing that we should not intervene in Syria, rather than voices like Ted Cruz today, ISIS grew and metastasized. Because Obama decided to withhold support from Nigeria over human rights concerns, Boko Haram has flourished. Because the President failed to respond strongly when the Crimea was invaded (or to adopt a strong response to Georgia, a blame he shares with Bush), Russia invaded far more of Ukraine. Because the President failed to support protesters either inside or outside Iran (the Iranian opposition has easy access to news about Syria, Egypt, and Russia) and has failed otherwise to take a hard line on Iran, we may see an Iranian nuke end the half millennium modern era of prosperity. The President is mitigating some of his errors, although not without cost. Nonetheless, we need to be aware of the conflict to engage in it. We need to be committed to it to win it.

It is precisely this sort of serious awareness and commitment that inaugural speeches are designed to create. If we return to Presidents who take the burden seriously, Bush’s second inaugural may go down in history as an important marker in one of the most important developments of the first half of the Twenty First Century.

*One of the downsides with meetups is that one learns so many fascinating things that it becomes hard to retain much.

There are 61 comments.

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  1. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    From the speech:

    We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.

    We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people. America’s belief in human dignity will guide our policies, yet rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators; they are secured by free dissent and the participation of the governed. In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty.

    This is neither utopian nor wishful thinking. It is the reality of the modern world. The threats are global and fast-moving. It is in our own best interests to come to terms with this new world.

    Before there was Facebook, it was easy to pretend that Hitler wasn’t conducting the Holocaust. We no longer have any excuses or escape.

    Of one thing I am certain: The Democrats always live in the past. GW was looking forward, seeing where the trends are heading. His eyes are fixed on where we are going, not where we’ve been.

    • #1
  2. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    MarciN:

    Thank you for quoting a passage that I also feel to be particularly moving, beautiful, and true.  I should have included it, but having it in the comments is probably even better.

    This is neither utopian nor wishful thinking. It is the reality of the modern world. The threats are global and fast-moving. It is in our own best interests to come to terms with this new world.

    More than that, though, it’s a message of hope. Until Obama’s second term, the world was moving on a seemingly inexorable path towards lower crime, less war, and freer trade. Every President made enormous strides forward. While the advances only seemed inexorable, Bush saw that if we stuck to it, we’d be able to shrink the spheres of barbarity to the point where regimes resisting the pull would have to become North Korean like hermit regimes and that when they fell, tyranny of the 20th century style would no longer exist.

    By current trends, murder and other forms of private oppression would still exist, but also on far lower levels. Theft and such, too. America has it in her capability to transform the world, slowly, into a place where it is genuinely unlikely that her population will be nuked (at least until technology advances to allow much smaller organizations to produce ’em), where Americans can travel safely and do business safely with a vastly greater market for American goods than has ever existed, and where the horrors on the news will be about “Florida man [insert poor life choice]” rather than an introduction to a people Americans have never heard of, so that they can now care about that people’s potential extinction.

    • #2
  3. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Continued:

    JFK’s pretty similar speech similarly foresaw the ending of more than half of the world’s dictatorships, and was similarly right to do so. He foretold a dramatically better world brought about by American might and American virtue. The reason that his speech was not utopian was not that he did not predict a paradise. It’s that the paradise he predicted is the one we live in today.

    When anonymous predicts the roaring 2020s, or Mustangman talks of the wonders that will be wrought by driverless cars, or Ten Cents talks about how amazing the iPhone is and how astonishing the next big thing like that will be, or the paediatric heart surgeon who I really hope will join Ricochet talks about the advances in medicine letting previously doomed kids in his care live, they don’t become starry eye’d dreamers just because their future world is fantastic. Like them, JFK and GWB were clear eye’d realists looking out at an incredible view. Unlike them (well, maybe like anonymous), they also played a significant role in creating that world.

    Also differently, they knew that they were going to ask men to die and they knew that they could not act quickly enough to prevent the ending of countless unsavable lives, and that they would adopt a balanced approach that would not commit the resources that would prevent the ending of countless preventable deaths. These are the speeches of two war leaders who know that their every decision is a trolley problem.

    • #3
  4. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    The best story I’ve ever read about the power of freedom, and what is coming to countries all around the world, is Xiao-huang Yin’s “China’s Gilded Age,” Atlantic Monthly, April 1994.

    The decade Yin is describing in this article is between 1985 and 1995, roughly. Prosperity followed quickly after the Communists got out of the way–and not that much out of the way.

    Freedom works fast.

    • #4
  5. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    First, President Bush was wrong to equate democracy with freedom. Limited, local government is more significant to freedom than the right to vote, and democracy obviously trends toward ever bigger and more intrusive government. This drift occurs slowly at first, then exponentially faster after the first entitlements are introduced.

    Second, though I agree that America’s traditional role as world police is praiseworthy and beneficial, our nation is becoming less capable of that role even as our technological power grows. Politically, sustained military campaigns have become impossible. Voters don’t have the patience for it. And our commanders pursue half-measures, avoiding through multicultural delusion any attacks on the cultural foundations which give rise to the barbarism we ostensibly wish to uproot.

    Occasionally, options more limited in scope and time, like President Clinton’s combination of air strikes and shock troops in Bosnia, might be effective. But occupations like those in Iraq and Afghanistan cannot be fruitful under present circumstances.

    Third, it seems more accurate to say that nations around the world had generally become more stable, rather than that they had become more peaceful. Invasions were fewer than in previous generations. But genocides and oppression continued regularly.

    Fourth, though I agree crushing ISIS early on was a worthwhile pursuit (perhaps attempting to stabilize Syria as well), it would have been politically disastrous here at home. After so much time and blood spent in Iraq and Afghanistan, I doubt voters would generally have supported another campaign in the Middle East. Whether or not failing to intervene then will force us to intervene later, the will doesn’t seem to be there among voters.

    • #5
  6. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Aaron Miller:First, President Bush was wrong to equate democracy with freedom. Limited, local government is more significant to freedom than the right to vote, and democracy obviously trends toward ever bigger and more intrusive government. This drift occurs slowly at first, then exponentially faster after the first entitlements are introduced.

    I recommend that you read the speech again. Even in the short stretch that Marci quotes, you’ll find objections to jailing dissidents, humiliating women and subjecting them to servitude, bullying the people, providing the people with human dignity, and offering them decent treatment. It’s true that at the end of that list he includes participation in government, but there’s a lot of stuff that he’s incorporating into the freedom and liberty essential to rights and justice.

    Democracy is important, but Bush’s thinking is far more sophisticated and nuanced than you allow.  He later goes into precisely the sort of Tocquevillian narrative it sounds like you’re asking for “In America’s ideal of freedom, the public interest depends on private character – on integrity, and tolerance toward others, and the rule of conscience in our own lives. Self-government relies, in the end, on the governing of the self. That edifice of character is built in families, supported by communities with standards, and sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran, and the varied faiths of our people.”

    Second, though I agree that America’s traditional role as world police is praiseworthy and beneficial, our nation is becoming less capable of that role even as our technological power grows. Politically, sustained military campaigns have become impossible. Voters don’t have the patience for it. And our commanders pursue half-measures, avoiding through multicultural delusion any attacks on the cultural foundations which give rise to the barbarism we ostensibly wish to uproot.

    Bush had literally just won the only election it turned out he needed to demonstrate that to be untrue. Thanks to Bush’s 2004 win, Iraq was turned into a prosperous and peaceful country. If America had acted to support the FSA in Syria, which didn’t need us to act with troops; the supply of money and arms would have been sufficient, Iraq would still be in that happy place now. As it is, they’re reclaiming ground from ISIS. It’s true that Afghanistan is a tougher issue; it’s too soon to tell how things will turn out there.

    The Middle East has gone from being a region that is chiefly populated by people who support terrorism to being dominated by people who loathe it. Sisi, governing the largest country out there, is more pro-Christian than any Egyptian leader in a thousand years. Tunisia and Iraq have peacefully transitioned power from leaders we weren’t fond of to their current impressive leaders. Saudi Arabia is following the advice you suggest and now has elected local government. It’s also been pretty strongly supportive of Israel. You don’t fundamentally change cultures in the way that America has done in the region without attacking the cultural foundations of which give rise to barbarism. There’s still work to do, but it’s really not fair to suggest that work hasn’t been done.

    • #6
  7. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Aaron Miller:Occasionally, options more limited in scope and time, like President Clinton’s combination of air strikes and shock troops in Bosnia, might be effective. But occupations like those in Iraq and Afghanistan cannot be fruitful under present circumstances.

    Clinton’s air strikes and shock troops in Bosnia worked primarily because the EU was keen to pour fortunes into nation building there and sent many, many, civilians out to help fix things. It worked because there was no serious foreign patron fanning the flames; what was either side going to gain by fighting more? Since the answer to that was clearly nothing, and there was plenty to gain through peace, we got peace.

    Iraq was turned into a peaceful (not as peaceful as Houston, but more peaceful than New Orleans) democracy with a thriving press and a booming economy. Unless your answer to “what more do you want?” is either “they should all convert from Islam” or “Bush should have made it so that they wouldn’t be invaded in the future”, then I haven’t heard an answer to the question.

    Third, it seems more accurate to say that nations around the world had generally become more stable, rather than that they had become more peaceful. Invasions were fewer than in previous generations. But genocides and oppression continued regularly.

    Deaths from war have been falling. Life expectancy, education, and other metrics of wellbeing have been increasing. What statistic would you want to show that genocide and oppression were decreasing?

    It’s true that Obama’s second term has been pretty awful in many respects, but if we didn’t have Iraq and Afghanistan as issues, then any help in Syria would have been described as a return to Somalia; I don’t think there’s something that Bush could have done that would have made Obama or Cruz eager to support the FSA. Rather, it’s as if RFK had won in ’68; we’d have had a terrible presidency for the Cold War, but that wouldn’t have made JFK’s speech less important. Whoever succeeds Obama should have a relatively easy time dealing with ISIS in the Middle East (reconstruction in Syria and Iraq may be harder to get political support for, but it’s not hard to get the policy right), if they even exist there in numbers by January 2017.

    It’s true that Iran will still be a problem, and neither Bush’s Second Inaugural nor his policies fixed that problem, but like JFK, he wasn’t really trying to fix everything in a single term. God willing, there’ll still be time in 2017.

    Fourth, though I agree crushing ISIS early on was a worthwhile pursuit (perhaps attempting to stabilize Syria as well), it would have been politically disastrous here at home. After so much time and blood spent in Iraq and Afghanistan, I doubt voters would generally have supported another campaign in the Middle East. Whether or not failing to intervene then will force us to intervene later, the will doesn’t seem to be there among voters.

    By “campaign” do you mean sending troops into combat? I agree that that would have been a poor plan. Sending troops into Turkey to train and equip the FSA, though, would have done wonders, a no fly zone would have been easy and cheap and the US public has been keen to support air strikes and drone strikes. There was never a call for the US to put more than a handful of lives at risk, and Americans have repeatedly shown themselves to be comfortable with hands off operations.

    Those things would have been far more than enough. They’d have had strong political support from across the Middle East (assuming that Iraq and Jordan were well compensated for the flood of refugees that would have resulted), aside from Iran. It’s true that he’d have taken flack from Tea Partiers and from the left of his party, but that’s a pretty low cost for a far more successful legacy.

    • #7
  8. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    James Of England:

    Democracy is important, but Bush’s thinking is far more sophisticated and nuanced than you allow.

    Fair enough. Bush clearly promoted faithful morality in addition to democracy. The latter is certainly colored by the former.

    But universal suffrage is not necessary and arguably not most conducive for individual liberty. I am sensitive to it being proposed as such by politicians and pundits.

    • #8
  9. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    James Of England:

    The Middle East has gone from being a region that is chiefly populated by people who support terrorism to being dominated by people who loathe it. Sisi, governing the largest country out there, is more pro-Christian than any Egyptian leader in a thousand years. Tunisia and Iraq have peacefully transitioned power from leaders we weren’t fond of to their current impressive leaders. Saudi Arabia is following the advice you suggest and now has elected local government. It’s also been pretty strongly supportive of Israel. You don’t fundamentally change cultures in the way that America has done in the region without attacking the cultural foundations of which give rise to barbarism. There’s still work to do, but it’s really not fair to suggest that work hasn’t been done.

    You are much more informed on the region than I am. But I accept much of this with a grain of salt.

    Saudi Arabia, for example, is supportive of Israel only to the extent that they wish to resist regional dominance by Iran. They still teach and export hatred of Jews, do they not?

    I hadn’t read about their move to elected government. Are the elections any more significant than Iran’s or Russia’s? In any case, do you anticipate some degree of fragmentation when the House of Saud loses it elderly patriarch?

    Egypt’s leadership has guarded its large Christian population from annihilation. But do they not continue to specially tax and oppress Christians? Christ’s followers have long been tolerated to live there, but my understanding is that they have always been treated as second-class citizens. Has that changed under Sisi?

    I’m really not trying to pick apart your evidence for optimism. But it seems from what I’ve read that all America’s presence ever offered was infrastructure and that our leaders on the ground were loathe to change the cultures for fear of being imperialist.

    • #9
  10. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Aaron Miller:

    James Of England:

    Democracy is important, but Bush’s thinking is far more sophisticated and nuanced than you allow.

    Fair enough. Bush clearly promoted faithful morality in addition to democracy. The latter is certainly colored by the former.

    But universal suffrage is not necessary and arguably not most conducive for individual liberty. I am sensitive to it being proposed as such by politicians and pundits.

    I think that if you look at the empirical data, you’ll find that democracy correlates with smaller government, once you control for the wealth of the country. If you’re a dictator for life, you still have to buy the support of your people, and you generally have a lot more incentives for corruption. More importantly, the better dictators are either replaced by democracy (Chile) or by worse dictators (Iran). You’ll note that Bush didn’t say that rights were created by democracy; he said that they were secured by democracy.

    It is, in general, true that it is harder to replace a mature democracy by coup than it is to replace a mature dictatorship. The speech was given a couple of years before The J Curve came out, but I think that it predicts the thesis of the book, which seemed pretty well supported by the data.

    • #10
  11. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    James Of England:

    Bush had literally just won the only election it turned out he needed to demonstrate that to be untrue. Thanks to Bush’s 2004 win, Iraq was turned into a prosperous and peaceful country.

    Let’s try this again! For the second time, I accidentally deleted my comment while trying to include a second quote. Hopefully, they will fix the selective quote function (again) soon.

    This is only half true. Iraq was generally a stable and kinder place while we occupied and controlled the country. But it spiraled into disarray the moment we left. That suggests that we had not fostered a stable and respectable nation. Rather, we sustained it by keeping everyone in line as a police force.

    Also, while we occupied both Iraq and Afghanistan, those leaders continue to (at best) turn a blind eye to abusive sharia practices. That does not reflect a culture respectful of human dignity and individual liberty.

    Again, our commanders generally seem to be multicultural fools who think imposing Western values would be a crime and honoring local traditions requires even allowance of abusive behavior. Do any of our leaders think along the lines of Steyn’s anecdote about General Napier? How much civility did we really demand during those occupations?

    • #11
  12. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Aaron Miller:

    James Of England:

    I accept much of this with a grain of salt.

    That’s fair.

    Saudi Arabia, for example, is supportive of Israel only to the extent that they wish to resist regional dominance by Iran. They still teach and export hatred of Jews, do they not?

    I think their concern about Iran is a big part of it, and you’re right that the Saudi people are to the anti-Semitic side of even, say, France, but there’s been a huge shift in tone and policy even on areas where Iran isn’t directly involved, and the ability to work with Israel even on that sort of thing wasn’t present on this sort of scale before Bush.

    I’m not saying that Bush replaced Saudi with Canada, just that he shifted the culture significantly, which I think is evidence of efforts to shift the culture.

    I hadn’t read about their move to elected government. Are the elections any more significant than Iran’s or Russia’s? In any case, do you anticipate some degree of fragmentation when the House of Saud loses it elderly patriarch?

    They’re insignificant in different ways. They’re genuine, but they’re for local government. They had their first election under Bush, cancelled their second election under Obama, then finally held it in his second term. I don’t really know anything about how they turned out because I don’t know anything about Saudi local government issues, but the point was less about providing small Saudi towns with awesome mayors than about capacity building for a future shift towards democracy.

    It’s not clear when or if they want to make that leap, but preparing society for it both increases the demand and lowers the cost. The first time round there was talk about progressing to regional elections, but Obama’s not applied the pro-democracy pressure. With luck, we’ll win next year and the Saudis will pick up speed again.

    Egypt’s leadership has guarded its large Christian population from annihilation. But do they not continue to specially tax and oppress Christians? Christ’s followers have long been tolerated to live there, but my understanding is that they have always been treated as second-class citizens. Has that changed under Sisi?

    They’re not charging a jizya, no. Mubarak didn’t, either. The MB did, briefly, and inconsistently, but that’s not a thing now. Sisi has been magnificent with Christians, not just going out of his way to provide protection and government services, but attending a Christmas mass and explicitly supporting them against Muslim bigotry, a stance that seems highly likely to cost him his life at some point.

    I’m really not trying to pick apart your evidence for optimism. But it seems from what I’ve read that all America’s presence ever offered was infrastructure and that our leaders on the ground were loathe to change the cultures for fear of being imperialist.

    I think that there was a tremendous reluctance to dictate specifics, with terrible effects. It’s why I was having to push for an insider trading law when I was out there, and why they have a stupid Belgian style constitution instead of an American style one, albeit with some important American components (in particular, federalism and more gun rights).

    Still, America’s worked hard to delegitimize groups like AQ and ISIS, to promote respect for women and minorities, and to curb the abuses of the state, and they’ve had a lot of success in that. I’d thought that that was what you meant.

    • #12
  13. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Regarding democracy vs authoritarian regimes, I think the primary difference is one of stability.

    Democracies are more conducive to burgeoning economies because political change occurs slowly. Predictability and long-term investments are crucial to productivity. Elective government is not less prone to corruption. Voters really don’t have much influence over politicians they don’t even know. But the corruption has a less dramatic impact because government actions are so gradual and inefficient.

    The downside is that democracy lulls citizens into a moral stupor. The less dramatic life is, the more apathetic and materialistic people are free to become. Thus, their lives are longer and more comfortable but largely wasted.

    But I don’t pretend to have an objective view of the matter. The grass is always greener on the other side.

    I don’t long for a benevolent dictatorship. But I do wonder if the horrors and economic costs of frequent political turnover are counterbalanced by the renewal of appreciation for liberty and justice; by less temptation to frivolous philosophies and pursuits. And I think various forms of limited suffrage might ultimately be more liberating than universal suffrage.

    • #13
  14. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    I appreciate your patience, James. You have educated me.

    • #14
  15. user_5186 Inactive
    user_5186
    @LarryKoler

    I’m always amused that people pretend that democracy is not the bulwark that it is. For monotonic societies it might be that the vote is not the most important means for controlling one’s destiny — being active in the local power center might be more effective — but it becomes much more difficult when you deal with variegated societies.

    But, we must realize that for an oppressed people — take the black population in the south after the Civil  War — the vote is the backstop that is essential. This is also why it’s important that the vote have no restrictions — like literacy, for example — and, of course it must be a secret balloting process. And the vote must be available to be exercised in a regular series to make long term peaceful change.

    Democracy is essential. Even to know that people don’t want or need the vote would require a secret ballot referendum to confirm it.

    • #15
  16. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Aaron Miller:Regarding democracy vs authoritarian regimes, I think the primary difference is one of stability.

    Democracies are more conducive to burgeoning economies because political change occurs slowly. Predictability and long-term investments are crucial to productivity. Elective government is not less prone to corruption. Voters really don’t have much influence over politicians they don’t even know. But the corruption has a less dramatic impact because government actions are so gradual and inefficient.

    The downside is that democracy lulls citizens into a moral stupor. The less dramatic life is, the more apathetic and materialistic people are free to become. Thus, their lives are longer and more comfortable but largely wasted.

    I think there can be just as much drama in democracy as in dictatorships; more, even, if the dictatorship is competent.

    Dictators maintain their position by keeping the support of interest groups, whereas in democracies the grassroots matter more. This means that dictatorships counter-intuitively tend to have stronger incentives to invest in machine politics. Take a look at Transparency International’s corruption index. You’ll note that the best countries in just about every region are democratic, and the worst in almost every region are dictatorships.

    Yes, embarrassingly, Iraq and Afghanistan are exceptions to this. Every year we’d hope that we’d catch up with Nigeria, and we did improve a little, but “sadly” Nigeria improved to. I think since then Iraq has actually backslid. This is part of my belief that we ought to be sending more aid to Iraq and a large portion of that aid ought to consist of sending accountants and training Iraqis to be accountants. Saddam invented a new system of accounting that was designed to be terrible, and is. Even if you’re honest, not being able to have functioning accounting makes it really hard to keep your company on the straight and narrow (we used IFRS, fwiw, but TBI was the first bank in Iraq to do so).

    Aaron Miller:I appreciate your patience, James. You have educated me.

    If you’re interested in exploring the reasons that dictatorships are often bad for corruption, I’d recommend Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoğlu and James A. Robinson. For a generally more interesting read that I think you’d enjoy, which touches on some related aspects of state building, The Locust Effect, by Gary A. Haugen, and Victor Boutros on the impact of poor rule of law on the poor and on the economy, is very good. It helps expand on the degree to which the moderately powerful benefit from a system in which you can bribe the police to ignore you raping poor people, but the devastating impact this sort of thing has on the economy and on the people.

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  17. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Aaron Miller:

    James Of England:

    Bush had literally just won the only election it turned out he needed to demonstrate that to be untrue. Thanks to Bush’s 2004 win, Iraq was turned into a prosperous and peaceful country.

    Let’s try this again! For the second time, I accidentally deleted my comment while trying to include a second quote. Hopefully, they will fix the selective quote function (again) soon.

    This is only half true. Iraq was generally a stable and kinder place while we occupied and controlled the country. But it spiraled into disarray the moment we left. That suggests that we had not fostered a stable and respectable nation. Rather, we sustained it by keeping everyone in line as a police force.

    Iraq continued to be a pretty non-violent place (ie, less violent than the more violent US cities, which is still somewhat violent) until they were invaded. Sadly, when that happened, we didn’t support them, so they were forced to turn to the Iranians, which means that they’ll have trouble rebuilding afterwards. Happily, ISIS made the stupid mistake of attacking the Kurds, which meant that the US decided to get involved. Iraq has been trying to reduce Iranian influence since then. Still, the unoccupied parts of Iraq, the South and such, are still pretty stable and respectable, although the oil price drop and sudden desperate need for public spending on fighting ISIS didn’t help (no country would respond comfortably to that).

    When ISIS is beaten back, Baghdad should return to being non-violent. There was some sectarian stuff, both anti-Sunni and anti-Kurdish when the Kurds were refusing to help against ISIS, but the Kurdish stuff has already passed and there seems every chance that the Sunni stuff will, too. Sadly, Iraqi politics are unbelievably complicated, and it’s not even clear which parties will be pro-Iranian in six months, let alone what policies and approaches that will lead to. Sadr’s recent anti-Iran stuff has been a particular reminder of that.

    Also, while we occupied both Iraq and Afghanistan, those leaders continue to (at best) turn a blind eye to abusive sharia practices. That does not reflect a culture respectful of human dignity and individual liberty.

    I’m not sure what you’re referring to, but quite a lot of Iraq is somewhat rural. The Marsh Arabs, in particular, are mostly illiterate stone age people. There’s something of a limit to the degree to which any government could civilize them without totally obliterating their culture. Other areas of Iraq vary considerably in the degree to which they are cosmopolitan, but policing that sort of stuff is hard; witness the European efforts. More helpful is having Iraqis travel, have access to global media, and such. A lot of the television is Egyptian, and they’re trying pretty hard to reduce abuse.

    Again, our commanders generally seem to be multicultural fools who think imposing Western values would be a crime and honoring local traditions requires even allowance of abusive behavior. Do any of our leaders think along the lines of Steyn’s anecdote about General Napier? How much civility did we really demand during those occupations?

    Check this article on the post-occupation treatment of honor killings. It’s complaining about a guy who got out of prison after only seven years. That’s shorter than I’d like, and in Vermont he’d have gotten fifteen years, but I don’t think that the difference between seven and fifteen years is really a disagreement over first principles. Suttee was relatively straightforward to prosecute, whereas honor killings often aren’t (in the West we’re not always great at it, either).

    Still, the Iraqi government for the most part makes a reasonable effort at it. Their police are better trained than just about any in the Middle East, which is, granted, a kind of low bar.

    • #17
  18. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @GrannyDude

    So interesting James, as always. (Of all things, I got to meet some Iraqi police at our academy in Maine—they were visiting as part of a program the State Department is running? I wish I’d had the chance to talk to them. I’m not even sure how the interpreter explained who/what the weird police/priest lady was…?)

    • #18
  19. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    President Bush comments on the Middle East (linked through the Drudge Report):

    http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-04-27/george-w-bush-bashes-obama-on-middle-east

    The Bloomberg headline is an overstatement. GW was pretty mild, but, as always, accurate.

    • #19
  20. Ricochet Contributor
    Ricochet
    @TitusTechera

    JFK was no prophet of peace & prosperity. He made startling promises he had no intention of keeping–help any friend, face any foe?–& the reality is the Berlin Wall, losing Cuba, & starting Vietnam. Those are his facts, not just the dreamy speeches. To display more political cowardice would have been difficult.

    To your happy history I respond with Vietnam: Remember how president after American president managed that war such that by the end, so many Americans had died or suffered mutilations, wounds, & terror; remember the way those men, hallowed in hell, were treated as they returned, unvictorious, unhonored, & unsung; remember the disgusting spectacle of betrayal that marked the political partisanship of the day; remember, too, the destruction Americans caused in Vietnam & then the millions they abandoned to slaughter in hell. This is the truth about JFK & his successors. Fantastic images cannot wash away the blood. Why did all those people have to die? Who dares to speak like JFK & then this follows? Who dares to look away from that to greener pasture?

    This heaping of praise on American presidents strikes me as immodest & immoderate. If these men are responsible for the good in this world, how shall they escape blame for the evil?

    As to Mr. W. Bush, aside from proving again that Americans cannot fight a war properly because of their politics, his speech is a scary reminder of Wilson’s 1917 War Message. Men who are unable to do the job required of them fantasizing about perpetual peace.

    • #20
  21. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Titus Techera:JFK was no prophet of peace & prosperity. He made startling promises he had no intention of keeping–help any friend, face any foe?–& the reality is the Berlin Wall, losing Cuba, & starting Vietnam. Those are his facts, not just the dreamy speeches. To display more political cowardice would have been difficult.

    He made promises that you wouldn’t think were particularly startling if you were aware of, for instance, Eisenhower’s approach to the same speeches (they’re different, and I think JFK’s clearly superior, but the chief differences are in tone and some eccentricities of Ike) and he worked hard to fulfill them.

    That didn’t mean that he could dictate to the GDR what they could do in their country. Even Reagan at his finest could only appeal to their decency and condemn their barbarism. JFK acted more or less like Reagan in this matter. His Ich bin ein Berliner speech wasn’t Peter Robinson quality, but it’s still one of the better efforts of the Twentieth century. The direct response to the Berlin Wall, though, was less important than the ultimate solution; supporting American greatness through tax cuts, a robust foreign policy, and ultimately winning the Cold War, the only solution that would ever restore decency to territory despoiled by the Stasi.

    In Cuba, JFK made mistakes (he made a fair few of them), but the mistakes didn’t make him unfaithful. He did what he could. Again, although Castro’s regime has taken longer to fall than Ulbricht’s, Cold War victory was the ultimate solution, combined with a continual support for those who kept the flame of truth and hope alive.

    Like Bush, JFK didn’t pretend that his coming inaugurated a new age free from suffering. Rather, JFK promised that he would faithfully work towards ending the biggest cause of suffering in the world and that he would stand by its victims.

    In Vietnam, JFK continued a policy, in line with the speech, of defending freedom abroad, as it had been defended successfully in Greece, South Korea, Lebanon, and West Berlin, and less successfully in China. It’s true that Mansfield’s insanity would ultimately doom the Vietnamese, and many people consequently say that America never sticks to its guns, but in general American support for the embattled was sufficient for the long haul and the shamefulness of the Democrats combined with their empowerment by Watergate were not predictable. In a more typical run of events, both the Soviets and the US supported their Koreas, and the American commitment turned out to be worth more.

    To your happy history I respond with Vietnam: Remember how president after American president managed that war such that by the end, so many Americans had died or suffered mutilations, wounds, & terror; remember the way those men, hallowed in hell, were treated as they returned, unvictorious, unhonored, & unsung; remember the disgusting spectacle of betrayal that marked the political partisanship of the day;

    I don’t understand if you’re arguing that JFK didn’t follow through on his commitment to pay a high price for freedom or if you’re claiming he was wrong to. I don’t think  that the Vietnam troops under JFK were particularly unsung. I agree that some people treated later Vietnam troops terribly (indeed, Amy, Mr. Amy, and I are trying to think of a suitable way of honoring the Vietnam troops on the 50th anniversary of their first fight in June; this is taking up quite a bit of our time). I don’t see what that has to do with JFK’s speech.

    remember, too, the destruction Americans caused in Vietnam & then the millions they abandoned to slaughter in hell. This is the truth about JFK & his successors. Fantastic images cannot wash away the blood. Why did all those people have to die?

    I want to say that the answer is “Because the Soviet and Chinese Communist governments were unbelievably evil (and the North Vietnamese police state wasn’t particularly charming either; if you haven’t read Hanoi’s War, you should)”, but I feel bad having to explain the awfulness of Communist dictatorships to a Romanian. Are you old enough to have experienced any of that?

    Who dares to speak like JFK & then this follows? Who dares to look away from that to greener pasture?

    JFK committed to fighting and winning the Cold War. He fought and (together with his successors) won the Cold War. I agree that it took some daring and some luck (the Missile Crisis in particular, but other moments, too). Nonetheless, while we shouldn’t lose sight of JFK’s poor choices (unionizing federal employees, for instance), it seems appropriate to celebrate his better moments, even when, as appears to be an issue for you “pay any price” involved paying a price.

    This heaping of praise on American presidents strikes me as immodest & immoderate. If these men are responsible for the good in this world, how shall they escape blame for the evil?

    The reason that American Presidents take disproportionate credit for the good of the 20th Century and disproportionately little blame for the evil is that America was disproportionately responsible for the good of the 20th century and Americans failed to pull their own weight in the production of evil.  You might see this as immodest of me to claim but it strikes me as plain on its face.

    As to Mr. W. Bush, aside from proving again that Americans cannot fight a war properly because of their politics,

    I’m not sure what fighting a war properly would look like to you; perhaps you will regale us with a list of prominent Romanian military successes? I think that the replacement of one of the world’s most dangerous dictatorships with a flourishing and peaceful regime is pretty much what victory looks like. Iraq’s going through a bad patch right now, but the nightmare seems like it’ll be a couple of years long at most and will never rise to the heights of ugliness that life under Saddam reached.

    his speech is a scary reminder of Wilson’s 1917 War Message. Men who are unable to do the job required of them fantasizing about perpetual peace.

    Wilson thought that universal decency could be willed into being in an instant, but the Great War was just one data point. His quintessential Progressive belief was that mankind was malleable to government plans. Unfortunately, as Burke said, example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other. It needs to be clear to would be warlords, from repetition, that they cannot hold on to power through oppression. It needs to be clear to terrorists that they will not win through slaughter. Bush achieved that in Iraq, where it should be clear to everyone that Al Qaeda has been marginalized, and that no long term good will come to future organizations from behaving like AQ. Thanks the the eventual course correction, Obama is now helping ISIS demonstrate that acting like ISIS isn’t going to result in getting to run a utopian state, either.

    Bush understood that he couldn’t wish or legislate these groups out of existence. Rather, as he says in the speech:

    The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it. America’s influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America’s influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom’s cause.

    If that reminds you of Wilson’s speech, its because you’re not paying attention to either speech. Bush committed, as did JFK, to put America’s weight behind freedom and decency on the basis that, with sufficient time and effort, freedom and decency would prevail. JFK was right, and Bush appears to have been right so far. Maybe there’ll be a nuke that stops this and criticisms that Bush didn’t go far enough will suddenly become obviously reasonable.

    • #21
  22. Ricochet Contributor
    Ricochet
    @TitusTechera

    James Of England:

    Mr. England, I have little patience for the applause of Kennedys. The truth is simple & ugly, the Soviet tyrant provoked him, bullied him, & won. He has no achievements whereof to speak in foreign policy. Soon, you’ll be defending Mr. Carter on Iran because Reagan won the war!

    I hope you will not take this as an insult to you–I simply disagree on American foreign policy, its achievements & promises. I am sorry to say, but in 250 words, there is more acrimony than respect, which I regret.

    How robust is a foreign policy where from Berlin to Cuba you lose? You praise this man in light of subsequent events which are not his doing!

    If it was worth fighting in Vietnam, it was worth winning decisively. What JFK gave America through Vietnam was terrible. That is his real legacy. It is not Communism that did the work of chaos there–it was American failure. That is the truth of foreign policy. If you want to give him Reagan’s achievements in winning the Cold War, pile on him the immense slaughter of Vietnam, too!

    This impudent young man is no way comparable to the venerable general. Eisenhower was the most important man in America when he became president, the architect of American victory in Europe, the last great ruler from WWII. He had earned the right to say startling things about perpetual peace. JFK was a nobody Senator whose deeds never measured up to his speeches.

    • #22
  23. Ricochet Contributor
    Ricochet
    @TitusTechera

    James Of England:

    Read again Mr. W. Bush’s words:

    We are led, by events & common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

    Unless we say he is being deceptious–such that increasingly would mean from ‘not at all’ to ‘only very slightly’–we must say he is lying to the country & the world. There is no serious connection between American liberty & what goes on in the world such that the former depends on the latter. American liberty depends & has depended on American politics for its survival. The rest of the world, free or unfree, has made no difference. Americans defend their own way of life & it does not matter whether the most unspeakable horrors happen somewhere else. Today like two generations ago, the American way of life is essentially independent of the goings on in this great vale of tears.

    America’s vital interests & our deepest beliefs are now one.

    This is the damning lie. This can never be. Interest & principle will never be reconciled fully in this vale of tears. Free though Americans may be, it is their freedom that matters to them, & what they have to do to others counts for little, & yet Americans would wish the world well…

    These are Wilson’s ideas–tying American liberty to world liberty, than which little is more fantastic!

    • #23
  24. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Titus Techera:

    James Of England:

    Mr. England, I have little patience for the applause of Kennedys. The truth is simple & ugly, the Soviet tyrant provoked him, bullied him, & won. He has no achievements whereof to speak in foreign policy. Soon, you’ll be defending Mr. Carter on Iran because Reagan won the war!

    West Berlin still stands, Soviet expansion mostly halted, Cuba has no nuclear missiles, American defense spending soared. He successfully concluded the Dillon Round of GATT talks, passed the Trade Expansion Act, and initiated the Kennedy Round. He negotiated the Limited Test Ban Treaty. He solidified US support for Israel even while maintaining relations with Nasser.

    It’s true that he had a rocky start with the Soviets, but he found his backbone and acted, successfully, in comport with the principles outlined in his Inaugural. Saying that Kennedy made progress in the Cold War that Reagan built upon is not like saying that Carter made progress in Iran that Reagan built upon. Neither Carter nor Reagan had much success with Iran. Reagan and Kennedy did beat the Soviets and freed a substantial portion of the world, yourself included. That’s not nothing.

    I hope you will not take this as an insult to you–I simply disagree on American foreign policy, its achievements & promises. I am sorry to say, but in 250 words, there is more acrimony than respect, which I regret.

    Disagree all you want; its your facts that I’m disputing, not your preferences.

    How robust is a foreign policy where from Berlin to Cuba you lose? You praise this man in light of subsequent events which are not his doing!

    He didn’t lose in Berlin. He maintained the land route, faced down the Soviet tanks, avoided war and achieved essentially everything he made a serious effort at achieving. What was the loss?

    If it was worth fighting in Vietnam, it was worth winning decisively. What JFK gave America through Vietnam was terrible. That is his real legacy. It is not Communism that did the work of chaos there–it was American failure. That is the truth of foreign policy. If you want to give him Reagan’s achievements in winning the Cold War, pile on him the immense slaughter of Vietnam, too!

    Kennedy has many legacies, from tax cuts to to the space program, all of which are real. While Kennedy lived, the problem in Vietnam wasn’t on a scale that required massive commitment. We can disagree about the effectiveness of subsequent Presidents in Vietnam, but your characterization simply doesn’t apply to 1961-1963.

    I think that Reagan’s Cold War efforts benefited from previous generations’ efforts, but that doesn’t mean that you can blame him for aspects of those efforts you dislike. Obviously, you can blame him for his support of the war while it was ongoing. I’d disagree with your value judgments, but you’d reduce your level of error to the merely subjective.

    This impudent young man is no way comparable to the venerable general. Eisenhower was the most important man in America when he became president, the architect of American victory in Europe, the last great ruler from WWII. He had earned the right to say startling things about perpetual peace. JFK was a nobody Senator whose deeds never measured up to his speeches.

    There are things about Ike that are non-comparable to things about JFK. You’re right that his military service was more distinguished, for instance (although Kennedy’s efforts weren’t nothing). There are also things about them that are open to comparison, though; their height, for instance, or the text of their inaugural speeches.

    My point about Ike’s speech, though, was that after Ike made it, subsequent people agreeing with it wasn’t startling. It would be wrong for me to compare myself to Einstein, but when I explain the basics of Relativity to people, no one is particularly startled.

    Lastly, when JFK won the 1960 election, even in the less than ethical manner in which he did so, he indisputably won the right to make an inaugural speech of his choosing.

    • #24
  25. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Aaron Miller:First, President Bush was wrong to equate democracy with freedom. Limited, local government is more significant to freedom than the right to vote, and democracy obviously trends toward ever bigger and more intrusive government. ……

    …..

    I understand the point that it’s preferable to live freely under a dictatorship than to live constrained under a democracy. However, I think you’re not accounting correctly for most of history as actually lived under non-participatory systems like monarchy, dictatorship, totalitarianism, tribalism. Whatever brief periods of utopian bliss achieved under these systems has been highly unstable and just as likely to be immediately countered by privation and oppression. On the other hand, periods of democratic chaos and oppression have generally been few and far between the periods of remarkably stable freedom and prosperity.

    • #25
  26. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Titus Techera:

    James Of England:

    Read again Mr. W. Bush’s words:

    We are led, by events & common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

    Unless we say he is being deceptious–such that increasingly would mean from ‘not at all’ to ‘only very slightly’–we must say he is lying to the country & the world. There is no serious connection between American liberty & what goes on in the world such that the former depends on the latter. American liberty depends & has depended on American politics for its survival. The rest of the world, free or unfree, has made no difference. Americans defend their own way of life & it does not matter whether the most unspeakable horrors happen somewhere else. Today like two generations ago, the American way of life is essentially independent of the goings on in this great vale of tears.

    I am glad that you’re not calling him “deceptious”, but there is, in fact, a strong link between the existence of murderous dictators abroad and American prosperity and security, and hence liberty. In the past, the rise of dictatorship in Germany has repeatedly impacted American liberty, as have problems in Japan, the Soviet Union, and the Islamic world.

    It’s also true that America is not an island, intellectually speaking. I don’t know if you’ve read Jonah Goldberg’s excellent Liberal Fascism, but its chronicling of the parallel developments in the US and Europe during the first half of the 20th century is only the best of a large number of works showing the way that the popularizing of ideas abroad has often been helpful in supporting those same ideas in America. Still, I think that Bush’s thought was primarily about the former, rather than the latter.

    America’s vital interests & our deepest beliefs are now one.

    This is the damning lie. This can never be. Interest & principle will never be reconciled fully in this vale of tears. Free though Americans may be, it is their freedom that matters to them, & what they have to do to others counts for little, & yet Americans would wish the world well…

    These are Wilson’s ideas–tying American liberty to world liberty, than which little is more fantastic!

    The existence of powerful evil regimes abroad has traditionally been the chief threat to American prosperity and security. I don’t understand how one can deny that, eg., victory in the Cold War was both a huge deal for America’s deepest beliefs and for her vital interests. Or over the Fascists. Or the Kaiser.

    One can quibble over the cost, but denying the existence of a united benefit to both concepts seems eccentric.

    • #26
  27. Ricochet Contributor
    Ricochet
    @TitusTechera

    James Of England:

    Again, you give him credit for what he did not do–the space program reached his declared goal in ’69–but refuse to blame him for other things he did not do, although he had at least much responsibility in this other case–Vietnam–in this case, you stop in 1963. Not in the other. This amuses me.

    Your comparison of Einstein & Eisenhower is funnier still. Could you learn the difference between the political & the scientific understanding of causation? Einstein withers compared to the greatest of the generals America boasted in that century. Einstein did nothing for the cause of civilized freedom but say stupid things about socialism–Eisenhower, on the other hand, was as close to the angel in the storm as anyone could be.

    In politics, the speeches one makes are not about declaring causes & effects–they are speeches about causes for which men are called to fight; the sun rises whether you will or no, but civilization or freedom requires conviction, action, war, & sacrifice.

    As for what was lost in Berlin–to say nothing was lost is to say that the Berlin Wall was not a bad thing. I would applaud if you said that openly–if I understand correctly what is implied in the no loss talk. That is an event; a change in the political situation; if the change is such that nothing is lost by it, how then could it be bad? As for Cuba–JFK lost Cuba to Castro & Khruschchev.

    • #27
  28. Ricochet Contributor
    Ricochet
    @TitusTechera

    James Of England:

    There has never been dictatorship in Germany; perhaps you mean, tyranny.

    The fact that pretty much every regime is a threat to pretty much every other regime has nothing to do with whether any of them is free. All could be despotisms; all could be oligarchies; all could be free cities. The facts of politics would not change.

    America was the great power in the 20th century. Her freedom did not depend on anyone else. America defended her own freedom: That is what all free peoples believe is good & necessary, whether they are successful or not.

    At its Founding, America was far weaker compared to the great powers in the world & that proved both helpful & harmful in various ways, whether the powers were free regimes or not. Then, too, statesmen were able to defend American freedom whatever happened in the rest of the world. American freedom depends on America, not anything else.

    The traditional chief threat to America was Britain–& maybe France. Also, they were her chief allies. The enemies only changed in the last century. That might change again; some of these regimes might be called evil, but certainly not all. Evil has helped America, not only harmed her. So it is in politics. The monster Stalin was far more useful to the cause of freedom & civilization & American victory than the far more moral French. So it is in politics. Then Stalin became the enemy, as also his heirs. That also happens in politcs.

    • #28
  29. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Kate Braestrup:So interesting James, as always. (Of all things, I got to meet some Iraqi police at our academy in Maine—they were visiting as part of a program the State Department is running? I wish I’d had the chance to talk to them. I’m not even sure how the interpreter explained who/what the weird police/priest lady was…?)

    I’m sure they’d have loved that, and a lot of Iraqis find Unitarianism fascinating (it’s like you’re Christians who have correctly understood that the cosmology is wrong, but haven’t yet understood all the details of Islam). Along with the rest of your job, and your natural charm, I hope you get the chance to talk to some future group, as I’m sure you will make their trip!

    • #29
  30. user_5186 Inactive
    user_5186
    @LarryKoler

    Titus Techera:

    James Of England:

    Your comparison of Einstein & Eisenhower is funnier still. Could you learn the difference between the political & the scientific understanding of causation? Einstein withers compared to the greatest of the generals America boasted in that century. Einstein did nothing for the cause of civilized freedom but say stupid things about socialism–Eisenhower, on the other hand, was as close to the angel in the storm as anyone could be.

    TT: James was making an analogy not a comparison. Come on — he’s being clear here, isn’t he?

    • #30
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