Robert Kagan explores the “higher realism” of President Bush’s inaugural address. According to Kagan:
[T]he pragmatic virtue of basing American foreign policy on the timeless principles of the Declaration of Independence is that they do reflect universal aspirations. Such a policy may attract wider support abroad than the war on terrorism has and a more durable support at home for an internationalist foreign policy. That is the higher realism that Bush now proclaims.
I agree with Kagan. However, he also states that “Bush’s goals are now the antithesis of conservatism.” I don’t see why this is so. Nothing in mainstream American conservatism is inconsistent with the goal of spreading democracy. What has some conservatives worried, I think, is the prospect that Bush may make bad decisions about the prospects for, and the acceptable price of, spreading democracy in particular instances. The devil is in the details, as the cliche goes. But Bush’s address was not about details, nor should it have been.