Newspaper and media commentators in this country and around the globe, with an eye on the anti-Syrian protests in Lebanon, are beginning to ask themselves an amazing question: Were the pre-emptive policies George W. Bush actually right? Citing the recent elections in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as popular calls for democratic reform in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and New York pundits are asking themselves if preemptive wars and massive military occupations, not to mention the use of torture and uncharged incarcerations of prisoners, aren’t really the way to spread the principles of freedom and democracy after all.
Some in the media are reminding their listeners and readers of the policies of Ronald Reagan in the 1980’s; after all, his military outspending of the Soviet Union eventually led to the collapse of that communist superpower. While it’s nice to remember Mr. Reagan, a pleasant, if buffoon-like, character who’s speeches to the nation were a mixture of good natured platitudes about democracy and forceful warnings to the Soviet Union (who can ever forget: ” We begin bombing in five minutes”), it is less agreeable to recall the funding of revolutions in Central America, weapons purchased with Narco dollars and sold to our “enemies” in Iran, strategic and military assistance in the form of the sale of chemical weapons precursors to our ally Saddam Hussein and Iraq, not to mention a twelve percent increase in the number of Americans who fell below the poverty line, financial recession, crushing interest rates, as well as some really bad musical and fashion choices including but not limited to Mister Mister, A Flock of Seagulls and really big hair. On the upside however, the sex was great.
What is less spoken about in conservative circles when recalling the collapse of Soviet communism is that this very victory of democracy has given today’s terrorists much greater accessibility to unsecured bio and nuclear weapons and the unemployed scientists that developed them, a genocidal war in the Balkans, ongoing rebellions in former Soviet satellite nations, the rise of Russian Mafias in this and other countries ( as an Italian this is particularly disturbing), as well as the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the disaffection of our onetime friend Osama bin Laden with our Middle East policies after the collapse that directly contributed to the attacks on September 11, 2001. In short, whatever we seem to do that’s good initially we always seem to drop the ball afterwards. We win the battles, but forget that we’re fighting a whole war. It can be left to history to decide if the methods used to win these battles, however odious to current eyes, were justified. How the war will end is the important thing and still a matter of conjecture.
These days though, it looks as if George W. Bush is riding high. When Yassar Arafat graciously died several months ago it threw organized resistance from groups like Hamas and the PLO to Israels occupation of Palestine into disarray. Along the same lines the recent car bombing that claimed the life of former Lebanese President Rafik Hariri, widely attributed by the Administration to Syrian President Assad even though such an act could do him no strategic good at all, seems to be opening the way for the Lebanese to oust Syria and Hezbollah from their country. Remember, if we accept the Administrations contention that Assad is indeed guilty then George Bush’s policies had nothing to do with what’s happening in Lebanon other than the possibility that the stress of being targeted by America as junior member of the Axis of Evil caused him to miscalculate his strategy.
Yet it’s George Bush who seems to be in line to reap the benefit of tens of thousands of anti-Syria marchers in the streets. Of course, Mr. Bush must also reap the somewhat more dubious reward of hundreds of thousands of pro