Tag: George W. Bush

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.

Iraq: What Might Have Been


290165818_4058f117ce_bIn a previous thread, Ricochet member Majestyk expressed a major complaint that he has about libertarians, liberals and even conservatives who gripe about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars: What is your alternate scenario?

If we could unwind the clock of history and place you inside George W. Bush’s head (a la Being John Malkovich) what is your preferred policy prescription for U.S. foreign policy in the days following 9/11?

I never hear that question answered and I barely hear it asked.

Notes on Islam as a Religion of Peace


1017748462_fbc42979b3_zSpeaking at the at the Islamic Center of Washington, DC in 2001, George W. Bush said that “Islam is peace.”

During his 2010 trip to India nine years later, Barack Obama said Islam “teaches peace, justice, fairness and tolerance. All of us recognize that this great religion cannot justify violence.”

Rev. James V. Schall, S.J., retired professor of political philosophy at Georgetown, last month in Crisis magazine:

The Lost Art of Political Persuasion


Persuasion used to matter in politics. A good politician was someone with the inclination — and the skill — to convince people who weren’t among his supporters to endorse his preferred policy or legislation.

There are many ways to accomplish this. Lyndon Johnson operated at the retail level, so to speak. Johnson was a master at twisting arms in the Senate, and cajoling members on both sides of the aisle into forming a coalition to pass whatever legislation he wanted. In contrast, Ronald Reagan worked wholesale. He had a genius for convincing millions of voters he was right and — through them — convincing his political opponents that supporting the president’s policies was the best way to keep their jobs.

Is Obama a War Criminal?


Like many other auditors, Howie Carr of The Boston Herald was perplexed after he listened to Barack Obama’s televised address on Wednesday night. He cannot understand, any more than can you or I, how the President can deny that ISIS — the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria — is Islamic. He could have added that it was also rather odd that the President of the United States denied that ISIS is a state. “What,” we might ask, “does a state do that ISIS does not now do?” And Carr was no less nonplussed when Secretary of State John Kerry denied that we were going to war against ISIS, resorted to euphemism, and asserted that what we are about to become engaged in is “a very important counter-terrorism operation.”

“Does that,” Carr asks, “make it … a police action? Will we have to destroy the village in order to save it?”

ISIS: It is ____’s Fault!


No points for filling the blank correctly.

In a new op-ed published at Project Syndicate, Joschka Fischer, former Foreign Minister of Germany (1998-2005), has a theory on what he calls “the staggering accumulation of crises and conflicts facing the world today – in Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Gaza, and Libya” and it all has to do with America’s decline or, as he sees it, the waning of Pax Americana. While he is not entirely clear whether this decline is self-imposed or brought about by the inevitable march of history, Fischer is extremely clear on one thing: A great deal of it is George Bush’s fault! This certainty is delivered in one sleight of hand sentence with no further explanations.

Wanted: A Jealous Congress


One of the more depressing aspects of recent constitutional history is the decline in institutional opposition between the branches of our Federal government.

Institutional opposition stems from the separation of powers described in the Constitution, in which the three branches of government exist as separate and co-equal institutions, each with their own prerogatives and responsibilities.  If Congress were, for instance, to negotiate a treaty directly with a foreign power, the President should oppose the action on the grounds that Congress has usurped his rightful authority.  Likewise, if the President attempted to take out a loan on behalf of the country, Congress should should rightly raise Hell.  Whether the president and congress* agree on the substance of these issues should be irrelevant; the point is that each is wrongly poaching on the other’s territory.

Member Post


Would you vote against someone just because their parent/spouse/sibling/third cousin is also a politician? Quin Hillyer argues that, all other things being equal, Americans should do just that. Of course all other things are never quite equal, so to some degree it’s a theoretical argument. But — their own individual merit or lack thereof aside, […]

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Member Post


I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe everything I see in the lame-stream media.  Bought-and-paid-for shills, the lot of ’em.    So I withheld judgment when a few months ago everyone started flappin’ their gums and jumpin’ up and down about what a monster this Vlad Putin guy was.   At first I was confused. […]

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