This piece by Michael Kelly

This piece by Michael Kelly combines insight with fallacy in discussing the Bush Doctrine. Kelly is insightful in drawing the analogy between the foreign policy of President Bush and that of President Kennedy. And Kelly is surely correct in arguing that the Bush Doctrine is neither imperialistic nor an extreme departure from American practice and American values. However, I believe that Kelly is wrong to refer to the President’s policy as “armed evangelism,” just as he would be wrong to call President Kennedy’s policy that. As far as I can tell, Bush is not out to “make the world safe for democracy.” His goal is to make the world safe for our democracy. To be sure, we are safer in a world full of democracies. But that does not mean we are, or should be, on a crusade to bring democracy to the world. In Iraq, for example, our goal is to topple Saddam Hussein and to rid his country of weapons of mass destruction. We hope that, in the process, Iraq and maybe even its neighbors will become far more democratic, and we may be willing to devote considerable effort to try to bring that about. However, the extent to which we will do so has yet to be determined, as far as I can tell. Presumably, it will depend on the “facts on the ground.” And nothing in the Bush Doctrine, as it has been publicly articulated, commits us one way or another on this matter. Thus, Kelly is wide of the mark in comparing the President’s policy with the selective “evangelism” of President Clinton as manifested in Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo.


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