1919 Redux?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Caroline Glick draws some interesting parallels between the current political landscape in America and the one that obtained in 1919:

In the 1920 presidential elections, Warren Harding won handily by promising to turn America away from Wilson's grand designs and return it to "normalcy." Harding's "normalcy" was quickly translated into a policy of isolationism. The US locked its doors and shuttered its windows, blocked immigration and ignored the world as Germany descended into fascist madness and placed itself under the leadership of a tyrant bent on global domination.

Today, as then, Bush's freedom agenda for the Muslim world is under attack from all quarters as the US shifts noticeably into a comparable isolationist mode. Conservatives concerned about preserving the America's cultural identity are pushing for an end to illegal immigration from Mexico. The Democrats, in concert with former secretary of state James Baker's considerable camp of followers in the Republican Party and the State Department, are advocating an end of US support for its allies and supporters in Iraq, Israel and Lebanon in favor of an embrace of US enemies Iran and Syria. [bold added]
Glick's analysis of what went wrong with Bush's prosecution of the war is overgenerous with respect to its implicit estimate of how workable a strategy to "democratize" the Moslem world really is. She also seems puzzled that Bush, a theocrat who regards Islam as a "religion of peace", has embraced so many of America's enemies (really, just the most consistently religious Moslems). Based on these things, I would guess that she shares Bush's basic flaw, which is to regard faith as a valid means of guiding ethics and politics, or at least fails to appreciate on some level the fundamental incompatibility of faith and freedom.

Be that as it may, Glick does have a firm grasp of the results of Bush's actions, which she describes as follows:
Historical hindsight has judged the feckless appeasement and irresponsible isolationism of the 1920s and 1930s responsible for the catastrophe of World War II. Bush's doctrine of war and peace was aimed at preventing just such a reenactment of history.
And speaking of historical parallels, John Lewis has already drawn some of his own between how we should be fighting the current war and how we fought World War II. How much more relevant those threaten to become!

-- CAV

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