2006 January 11 Wednesday
Who Believes Bush Democracy Doctrine?

Leslie Gelb thinks most top Bushies do not believe the Bush Administration's doctrine of democracy as cure-all to end the threat of Islamic terrorism.

First of all, the real policymakers in the administration come down to six people, and while President Bush might well believe his new doctrine, he has no track record on the subject before entering the White House. Nor did he say much on this subject broadly during his first term. Vice President Cheney, on the other hand, is a hard-headed conservative pragmatist whose history would suggest great skepticism about policies designed to transform the world. Secretary of State Rice spent most of the Clinton years calling that administration dangerously naive for fomenting notions like human rights and democracy. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld delights in debating doctrines, not advancing them. Stephen Hadley, the national security advisor and consummate policy lawyer, never met a generalization, let alone a high-falutin' idea, he liked. Karl Rove, the key White House political strategist, probably doesn't object to promoting democracy abroad as long as it helps Mr. Bush and hurts the Democrats at home. (And who could be surprised to find such noble motives in American politics?) One other, now departed, was present in the Pentagon at the creation of the democracy doctrine-Paul Wolfowitz, who almost certainly believed it then.

Before Mr. Wolfowitz and many other top officials left the administration, they wedged hordes of neoconservative acolytes into the bureaucracy. They remain true believers. As for the throngs of career underlings throughout the government, they generally convey careful reserve, bordering on insouciance, about the doctrine.

So, we can say with confidence that at least one senior member of the administration is devoted to the doctrine, namely, Mr. Bush himself. His adherence to his own doctrine is no trivial matter. It means that he will insist on repeating it and that the secretary of state will join in regularly. The doctrine will not be discarded as was the anti-nation-building doctrine.

So Bush and some neocons are true believers. But most of Bush's top people probably do not believe the doctrine will work.

Gelb points out that Bush is not trying to spread democracy in Saudi Arabia. Now why would that be? Of course Al Qaeda's core comes from Saudi Arabia. Also, to my knowledge no Iraqi flew into skyscrapers. So why target Iraq rather than Saudi Arabia?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 January 11 10:55 PM  Religion Secular Ideologies

Invisible Scientist said at January 12, 2006 12:32 AM:

Had Bush succeeded in Americanizing Iraq (the way it was done in Japan after WW II), then the result would be that:

1) Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia would have been weakened considerably (the Saudi Royal Family would be in less danger of being overthrown by Al Qaeda). The Saudi Royal Family is not exactly pro-American, but it was acceptable so far.

2) Having a pro-American Iraq as a buffer between Saudi Arabia and Iran would have moderated the power of Iran considerably.

3) Additionally, this sandwitching of Saudi Arabia would have enabled the US to make it more difficult for Saudi Arabia to blackmail the US by threatening to sell its oil to other clients, etc.

Had Bush succeeded in Americanizing Iraq, the above 3 benefits would have compensated the US sufficiently to justify the losses in Iraq. The truth is that during the Viet Nam war, the protesters were not complaining against the war because they thought the war was immoral from the beginning, but due to the fact that the losses were not paying off.

Ned said at January 12, 2006 5:57 AM:

Natan Sharansky (http://www.knesset.gov.il/mk/eng/mk_eng.asp?mk_individual_id_t=127) wrote a book called, "The Case for Democracy," which makes the argument for the transforming power of freedom and democracy. Sharansky, now an Israeli citizen and member of the Knesset, is a very brave an insightful former Jewish dissident in the USSR who was jailed for many years for his activities by the KGB. (He wrote another book about this, "Fear No Evil"). Bush has supposedly read these books and is a big believer. While I admire Sharansky very much, I have my doubts about the transforming power of democracy in the Middle East.

Ivan Kirigin said at January 12, 2006 12:27 PM:

Why are so many of the world's terrorists from the ME?

The oppressive regimes combined with a top-down fanning fanatical flames seems like a good explanation to me.

Iraq is certainly far, far closer to a modern democracy today than it was under Saddam. Things might not be moving fast enough.

It isn't so much democracy as openness. Government leaders that won't stay in power forever are more accountable. Groups that have open and free economic ties are less likly to fight. Protecting the freedom of minorities ensures stability for the ruling majority.

Bob Badour said at January 12, 2006 5:30 PM:


You have a lot of things backward or wrong. Accountable leaders do not stay in power. Groups that don't fight are more likely to have free economic ties. Protecting the 'freedom' of minorities in the US is eroding stability for the ruling majority with likely disastrous consequences.

Who rules and how is highly variable with wildly divergent outcomes, and the influences driving various outcomes have more to do with the ability to produce value than anything to do with freedom.

mik said at January 12, 2006 7:03 PM:

Ivan Kirigin answers his question:

"Why are so many of the world's terrorists from the ME?
The oppressive regimes combined with a top-down fanning fanatical flames seems like a good explanation to me."

This is Bush Democratism Analysis Version 2. Version 1 was about lack of democracy only, Version 2 added Islamism - still no explanation how Islamism is different from Islam.

A quick look around the world puts that analysis into garbage can where it belongs.

There are many, way too many, oppressive regimes. Most don't produce terrorists. At worst, they produce guerillas that use terrorist tactics against their political enemies (Peru, Sri Lanka).
Only Mussulmans tend to produce people who kill widely and indiscriminately.

Even despotic fanatical regimes don't often produce terrorists. Pol Pot killed 25% of their countrymen, but didn't produce international terrorists.
IRA fought for 30 years, killing British indiscriminately, but never, to my knowledge, Americans, Germans or French.

No, there is something very special about Religion Of Peace, something that escapes Democratiser-In-Chief and our friend Ivan.

Invisible Scientist said at January 12, 2006 7:14 PM:

One anthropological fact is that whenever a tribe encounters a minority problem, the initial attempt of the tribe is to assimilate the minority, but as soon as the minority fails to get assimilated, the tribe decides to destroy the minority.

Invisible Scientist said at January 12, 2006 7:18 PM:

Don't be so 3-dimensional, you are omitting the time factor... During the previous century, a white cenral european nation decided to kill "indiscriminately" several populations in order to make room for its territory. Their indoctrination was as intense (or worse) than the current anti-Western Middle Eastern indoctrination, which is not yet so widespread.

Stephen said at January 12, 2006 8:41 PM:

But Invisible, those European incidents had an observable point from which they emanated, whilst the middle-east problem is different because there is no single organisation that could be described as indoctrinating the population. It has the feel of a much more dispersed, grass-roots, surliness. Since the Palestinian diaspora, a meme has been forming, spreading and digging deep into arab minds.

And, no, you can't say that Islam is an organisation - the imams etc are independent. There is no organisational equivalent to the Vatican or Pope.

Ivan Kirigin said at January 12, 2006 8:43 PM:

Good thing we can get beyond our upbringing, if what you say is true. First, many modern countries protect minority rights. Second, a minority is free to try to form their own tribe/country. I would love to see an independent Kurdistan, for example.

No, I stand by my claims. Leaders with term limits and the ability to lose elections are accountable. Rulers for life are some of the greatest abusers of rights. Trade increases the costs of war. I didn't say it was an if-and-only-if. Finally, the minority rights I'm talking about are different than granting rights of citizens to non-citizens and other bogus rights discovered by today's multiculturalist idiotarians. By rights, I mean Bill-of-rights style freedom from oppression.

Invisible Scientist said at January 12, 2006 8:58 PM:

Stephen and Ivan:
I was referring to the previous century, namely to the Nazi Germany, where the majority elected a collective system of madness, I was not referring to the The Pope or the Inquisition. Nazi Germany went way beyond terminating local minorities, they decided to terminate a lot more people thousands of miles away, and this was a religious cult movement.

mik said at January 13, 2006 2:35 AM:

Invisible Scientist,

It appears that you equate Nazi Germany racial genocide and brutal war conduct to Mussulman jihadi terrorism. While both are horrible, it also clear that they are totally different phenomena. Most obvious differences are a)fascism was state ideology and b) genocidal fascism was limited to Germany, Italian and other versions didn't have as much blood lust. Jihadism is ideology of some states and many groups accross nations, races and versions of Religion of Peace.

Analysis so coarse, so approximate cannot possible be very insightful.

Bob Badour said at January 13, 2006 3:13 PM:


No government leader will stay in power for ever. As Dr. Phil likes to say: "Ain't none of us getting out of this alive!"

Now, you introduce term limits and abuse of rights to confound a very simple statement you made earlier. You state your axioms without regard for plausible mechanisms of cause and without any empirical support. Weak. Very weak.

Many accountable governments have no term limits and some even abuse rights in the short term. However, as they are accountable, their power ends when the accounting finally gets done. One could observe that the last ruler of a multi-generation dynasty whose rule ends in revolution was finally held to account.

I find your arguments facile.

Invisible Scientist said at January 13, 2006 5:46 PM:

Fascism in Germany was only an external manifestation of a new religious cult that believed in reincarnation and many esoteric concepts. Aryanism was a religion, and like you said, even though Mussolini's version of Fascism clearly did not meet that standard, many Nordic pro-Nazi cult movements in both Scandinavia (and to some extent even the British Royal family )were sympathizing with the Nazi cult. In that sense, Aryanism was a religious mystical movement where some of the central ideas were belieft that Aryans reincarnate as Aryans. Read Kersten's Memoirs (by Felix Kersten, who was the physician of Heinrich Himmler, who wrote down all the confessions and mystical beliefs of Nazis.) Understandably, there are fundamental differences between the modern extremist movements in Islam where membership to a special race is not a requirement for converting to Islam (for admission to secret Nazi cult meetings, a candidate had to prove racial backround), the point is that the Nazi aggression was FAR more violent than the current Islamic aggression.

Stephen said at January 13, 2006 7:59 PM:

Invisible, I recognise that you were talking about Nazi germany - my reference to the vatican was solely meant to illustrate my point that islam doesn't have a single point of control, unlike catholicism.

On your point about the nazi's being a religion, I don't think they were and there's no evidence that Hitler participated in any kind of religious service. That said, any extreme political system (left or right) has elements that look very much like a religion - in particular the prohibition on questioning the system itself. Though Hitler's fascism was an order of magnitude more extreme than, say, Musolini's.

Invisible Scientist said at January 13, 2006 10:44 PM:

Stephen, the Nazi Party's founders initially belonged to an Aryanist cult called "The Thule-Gesellschaft".
Here is a web site about this:

Hitler was the first working class member admitted to this cult of intellectual snobs (and wealthy pseudo-intellectuals who were rednecks with high IQs), who were mostly upper class overall, because they noticed that Hitler was a very good speaker, and they wanted to use him to gain power. Afterwards, Hitler surpassed many of his original teachers from this Thule cult(such as the Professor General Karl Haushofer who was the founder of the Nazi geopolitics and the architect of the German alliance with Japan, Alfred Rosenberg (he violently denied being half-Jewish) who was the main indoctrinator of Aryan racist mysticism, whose books on racism sold only second to Mein Kampf, Rudolf Hess who made Hitler a vegetarian mystic, Baron Rudolf von Sebottendorff, and many others), and greatly exceeded what was expected from him, but the initial ideology of Nazism was very much immersed in this chaotic cultism. Swastika, was imported by the mystical Karl Haushofer who was very much into Eastern mysticism.

Invisible Scientist said at January 13, 2006 10:47 PM:

Here is one more web site about Hitler and the Nazi mystical cult:

Lawrence Auster said at January 15, 2006 2:45 PM:

Mr. Parker gets at one of the absurdities at the end of the article: obviously the U.S. is not seeking to spread democracy in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. Yet our policy is that we are spreading democracy. What then does this spreading of democracy actually consist of? It consists of facilitating the creation of democratic governments in the two countries we invaded, Afghanistan and Iraq, plus "insisting" that Muslim countries become democratic. That's it. There is very little prospect of the U.S. invading and occupying another Muslim country, therefore the democratization policy is largely a fraud. But that doesn't mean it is without effect. It certainly has had an effect on America, further making America an ideological country and distorting our understanding of politics. Thus, as I wrote the other day, our generals in Iraq have become ideological generals, arguing that the proof that we are defeating the still powerful terror insurgency is that three elections have been held in Iraq in the last year. This is ideology replacing reality, and it is a direct result of Bush's policy.

I guess my point is, since the only countries where there is even a remote possibility of democracy taking root are the countries that we have actually occupied, and since we are not going to occupy any more countries, why talk in such general terms about democratization at all? Why not just say, "Well, we had to invade these countries for our own national defense, and now that we are in charge of them, we need to give them some kind of consensual government." That would be a more modest and realistic way of framing our policy. Instead, we've been subjected to four years of brain numbing hype from the president and his supporters, while the hype goes virtually unquestioned in the mainstream, since the left has no arguments to offer at all.

Lawrence Auster said at January 15, 2006 2:50 PM:

I meant that Mr. Parker gets at one of the absurdities of the Bush policy at the end of his, Mr. Parker's article, not that Mr. Parker gets at one of his own absurdities.

Randall Parker said at January 15, 2006 5:34 PM:


Yes, you are right. I do not try to get at my absurdities. Instead I try to hide my own absurdities from public view. By contrast, the Bush Administration displays and defends its absurdities and claims its absurdities are virtues. Some suckers believe the Bushies. Once again P.T. Barnum has been demonstrated a wise man.

As for the Middle East and democracy: You are absolutely right. The Bush Administration is not going to force all the Arab countries to democratize. And, yes, this fact does demonstrate the hollowness of their stated strategy to stop terrorism with democracy. Even if that strategy could work it will not be tried (and I think it will not work even if tried by massive invasions to impose democracy). We are now over 4 years past the 9/11 attack and the supposedly urgent business of preventing terrorism by spreading democracy is not advancing at all.

The lip service for democracy as a balm for the Middle East has a big downside. Actually, it has several downsides but most notably the very ideological argument for universal democracy distracts from and takes resources from effective ways to reduce our risk from terrorism. Money spent on a pointless war is not money spent on beefing up the CIA or building better border security or building better computer systems for tracking terrorists.

I wonder if part of the appeal of the democracy argument is that it addresses some sense of feeling of illegitmacy on the part of some sections of our elites. Could that be an explanation? I admit to some bafflement on this issue but suspect something important underlies their view. Why do they need to point to democracy as the thing that makes us better? A workable non-corrupt and peaceful democracy is so much a product of virtues and customs that we must possess as prerequisites. Why not point to those prerequisites? Are the globalists uncomfortable with some of the prerequisites?

Lawrence Auster said at January 15, 2006 9:28 PM:

I was just glancing tonight at Fukuyama's "The End of History and the Last Man," which I have not read, and he is not at all a believer in the automatic successful adoption of democracy by all countries. He talks about the cultural characteristics that may resist liberal democracy. And he also (writing in the early '90s) specifically exempts the Islamic world from the general trends toward liberal democracy. A friend had been under the impression that Fukuyama's work was the origin of the neoconservatives' current belief that all people in the world are ready and able to adopt democracy. That does not seem to be the case at all. And of course Fukuyama has been more doubtful of Bush's democratization project and even formed a new magazine to express his views, though he is still a member in good standing in the neocon farm.

I think the answer to your question lies in something that Fukuyama sees as a driving force in history, Thymos, the Greek word meaning the drive to put value on things and have that value recognized. Man needs a highest value to justify his own existence. The old values of our civilization have been stripped away by modernity and liberalism. The value that is left is democracy, meaning the belief in the equal freedom and equality and rights of each person. In World War II, Americans and Britons spoke of defending civilization. But we don't believe in civilization any more, that's too particularistic, because it means _our_ civilization. So now our highest values are "democracy," "tolerance," "rights." Or, rather, it is right-liberals (meaning mainstream conservatives and neoconservatives) who believe in those things. Left-liberals only seem to believe in some guilt-driven altruistic collective self-sacrifice, to make up for all the bad things they imagine we've done to others.

So the answer is, among mainstream right-liberals who still want to believe in our country and civilization, the only available "higher value" is democracy; everything else is gone. They must put all their eggs in the basket of democracy. And, because the historic substance of our civilizaton is so thinned out, the rhetoric of democracy, by way of compensation, becomes ever more shrill. This is not the case with the left; they don't believe in our civilization any more, so finding a higher value to believe in is not a problem for them.

mik said at January 18, 2006 12:10 PM:

A one word is missing from all this discussion no matter how one feels about Bush's Democracy Uber Alles Project.
The word is Iran.

The plain fact is that after 3 years of flopping around in Iraq we now are facing a most credible nuclear threat. On Bushes watch. While the country is on a war footing, sort of, uncertainly conducting awar in a wrong place.
The threat is more credible than Soviet's, Mussulman does not mind the death of his children, xChristian Soviets did mind that.

If that is not a catastrophic failure of President, Diplomatic and Intelligence apparatus, I don't know what is.

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