Bush doctrine: Theory and practice

Claremont Review of Books editor Charles Kesler takes a thoughtful look at the Bush doctrine, compares it to the Reagan doctrine, and seems to call for refinements in the name of prudence: “Democracy and the Bush Doctrine.” Professor Kesler is one of the leading teachers of statesmanship and political philosophy of the younger generation of political science professors; his essay appears in the new (winter) issue of the CRB (subscribe here). Here’s one paragraph toward the conclusion of the essay:

As he begins his second term, the president and his advisors must take a hard, second look at the Bush Doctrine. In many respects, it is the export version of compassionate conservatism. Even as the latter presumes that behind the economic problem of poverty is a moral problem, which faith-based initiatives may help to cure one soul at a time, so the Bush Doctrine discovers behind the dysfunctional economies and societies of the Middle East a moral problem, which “the transformational power of liberty” may cure, one democrat and one democracy at a time. “The power of liberty to transform lives and nations,” he admonishes, should not be underestimated. But it may be that the administration underestimates the difficulty of converting whole societies in the Middle East into functioning democracies. By raising expectations

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