In the Arena

The Nobel Prize

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In their usual intellectually dishonest fashion assorted left-wing bloggers are now claiming that I proposed George Bush for the Nobel Peace Prize. I didn’t, of course. I wrote a column criticizing the sloppiness and ineptitude of Bush’s so-called “Freedom Agenda.”
I was slammed by the Weekly Standard as a result.
I stand by every word of the column, especially these words:

Toward the end of his latest rhetorical flight into liberal idealism, at the National Defense University last week, George W. Bush called the roll of high-minded American initiatives in the past century: Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points, Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms, Harry Truman’s Marshall Plan, the Reagan Doctrine. Three of the four Presidents invoked were Democrats, and the policies cited were spiritually quite the opposite of the Bush Doctrine, at least so far.
They emphasized poverty and economic development over military action. They assumed, perhaps naively, the best about human nature. It has been clear from the start that if President Bush was serious about his lovely rhetoric of freedom, his policy would have to involve more than the use of force.

At the time, I thought the headline–written by an editor–was misleading: it gave the impression that my sarcastic suggestion that if Bush’s Freedom Agenda actually works, he’ll deserve the nobel prize was real. It hasn’t and he clearly doesn’t. This was a theme that I’d been hammering for years: you need more than a election to have a democracy. You need a solid middle class, an independent judiciary, freedom of speech and the other rudiments of stability to have an actual democracy–and that Bush’s attempt to force democracy in countries that weren’t ready for it would prove disastrous. Which was the point of the column.