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The Business of State
Commentary by Greg Lewis / TheRant.US
The Bush administration has had to manage a number of important events during the past week. These include the shakeup in his second-term cabinet, the recapturing and securing by American and Iraqi forces of terrorist strongholds in preparation for the January elections in Iraq, the speculation about the chances for a revival of the Middle East "peace process" that the death of Yasser Arafat has brought about, and the sniping and defensive posturing and moral outrage that has accompanied the latest revelations of the unimaginable scope of the corruption that pervades the United Nations. Despite the urgency and gravity of these events, things have actually calmed down to a significant degree recently on the political front.
It seems that, because Bush's victory in the Presidential election was decisive, the air has been let out of the balloon of the election-fraud-conspiracy retribution threatened by Democrats, except, of course, for the continued embarrassing railing of MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and the Air America retro-"movement" jocks. The emphatic Bush victory in and of itself has generally caused the perpetrators of punditry to scale down their rhetorical intensity several notches. And, if the resulting hiatus hasn't quite been the occasion for a return to the public debate of civility — even, gasp, sanity — it has at least provided an opportunity for us to take a few deep breaths and a somewhat less impassioned look at the events in the world than we had been able to prior to November 2, before which time we were always feverishly assessing the import of said events in terms of how the candidates, if elected, would handle them and what their respective handling of them might mean for America.
But if the pundits' rhetoric has been scaled back, this period in history is nonetheless one of crucial importance. It is a period during which the direction of the Bush "mandate" is being defined through the President's cabinet appointments. It is also a period in which the efficacy of America's efforts to transplant democracy to the Middle East will be tested in the pending Iraqi and Palestinian elections. The next several months will truly provide important feedback to the question, "So, are the so-called 'neo-con' strategies, which so many on the left characterize as reckless war-mongering, really working?" Or, put another way, "Despite the continued 'insurgency' in Iraq, and despite the apparent intractability of Palestinian terrorist organizations, which will be satisfied with nothing short of the destruction of Israel . . . despite the continued high-profile activities of murderous and barbarous Arab terrorist movements, will we see definitive evidence in the coming months that the course our President is pursuing is producing positive results?"
The President's foreign policy — which postulates above all else that expanding the aegis of democratic rule throughout the world is the single eventuality that can insure the very survival of civilization as we know it on this planet — faces important tests in the weeks and months ahead. Many criticize Bush as being what can be termed a "neo-conservative cowboy" for his aggressive pursuit in Iraq of the war against international terrorism and the enforced spread of the principles of democracy. But it can also be convincingly argued that, if we had not followed this course of action, if, indeed, we are not successful in implementing it, we would have lost history's final battle. If we do not continue to pursue and finally to win the war against the forces of terrorism and nihilism and the perpetuation of the culture of death that Islamist radicals represent, we are paving the way for a plunge into "dark ages" that will make the last half of the first millennium A.D. look like a day at the beach.
The issues that are emerging as the Congressional investigation into the United Nations Oil-For-Food Program moves forward are relevant in this regard. While then-Secretary of State Colin Powell put a respected and moderate face on the United States' position regarding Iraq and the need to invade that country and overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime, his approach also belied what all of the President's advisors must even then, in the Spring of 2003, have known: that the very nations to whom we were appealing in the UN for support in overthrowing a dictator who was indisputably a major player in the international Islamist terrorist movement were themselves on that very dictator's payroll. Can there be any doubt that France's and Germany's and Russia's resistance to approving a UN resolution sanctioning the use of force against Saddam Hussein was motivated overwhelmingly by the fact that Hussein was greasing their collective palms to the tune of billions of skimmed and kicked-back UN-Oil-For-Food dollars?
And so President Bush has implemented a strategy that he and his advisors have come to understand provides the best — and very possibly the only — means by which western civilization can survive the current onslaught of Islamist terrorism. President Bush has remained steadfast in his vision, despite the fact that there is a willful blindness, a refractory inability on the part of his critics to admit that this assessment has validity.
Yasser Arafat's death has, if nothing else, called on us to look back on the past decade and understand that — if Arafat is representative, and I think he is — the principals of the Arab world, aided and abetted by bribed UN cohorts, have been, finally, not amenable to a negotiated resolution of their differences with, not only the existence in the Middle East of a Jewish state, but the existence of western-style democracies in any form. The radical resistance by Islamist terrorists to the United States' effort to bring to Iraq a version of representative western democratic government is only the most visible manifestation of a life-death conflict that is being played out around the world between the forces aligned with democracy and those aligned with murderous and repressive totalitarianism of the most heinous sort.
To see this conflict in any less than cataclysmic terms is to understate it, to devalue the impact of its outcome. Indeed, if that outcome is not one in which the principles and governmental consuetude consistent with modern democracies prevail, there will be hell to pay. Insuring the desired outcome is the true business of state of the emerging Bush administration.