Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Bush Doctrine considered

Charles Kesler has a long and thoughtful essay in the current issue of the Claremont Review of Books called "Democracy and the Bush Doctrine." (RealClearPolitics has offered it as Commentary, and that is the form I’m using.) It is very good, and very much worth pondering. I don’t think Bush’s second inaugural in any way affects Kesler’s main points. Note this, penultimate, paragraph:

Finally, the Bush Doctrine’s all-absorbing focus on bringing democracy to Iraq tends to crowd out concern for the kind of constructive, wide-ranging statesmanship that is needed there and in other Islamic nations. Unfortunately, the administration has never thought very seriously about constitutionalism, either at home or abroad, except for the narrow, though important, issue of elections. As the example of Turkey suggests, it may take many years, if ever, before Iraq is capable of a fully-functioning liberal democracy. In the meantime, the Iraqis need to adopt what arrangements they can to create strong executive powers; security forces able to protect their countrymen’s life, liberty, and property; a free, prosperous economy; local experience in managing local affairs; and impartial courts. Better regimes than the Taliban or Saddam Hussein are surely attainable, and are being attained. But these new governments are haunted by dire threats, including the danger of civil war and national disintegration.

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