July 28, 2002

SOME INTERESTING THOUGHTS ON regime change in Iraq and Iran, and on the Bush strategy for the region:

The Bush administration–and it is perhaps accurate here to underscore, the president himself more than his foreign-policy team–appears to be trying to grapple seriously with an American response to tyranny in the Muslim world, particularly in Iran. The president’s “axis of evil” speech, his July 12 address on Iran, the subsequent delivery of this statement in Persian over Voice of America radio by the National Security Council’s Zalmay Khalilzad, and the Captive Nations Week proclamation of July 17 have revealed a man who obviously believes that certain Western ideas have universal range and roots. The president, who is probably the most sincerely religious commander in chief since World War II, has stated repeatedly that faith does not countenance despotism, that Muslims, too, have the right to “liberty and justice . . . the birthright of all people.”

Stepping away from the “realist” world of his father–where a vision of regional stability, not a belief in individual liberty and democracy, drove foreign policy–George W. Bush has sliced across national borders and civilizational divides with an unqualified assertion of a moral norm. The president declared, “The people of Iran want the same freedoms, human rights, and opportunities as people around the world.” America will stand “alongside people everywhere determined to build a world of freedom, dignity, and tolerance. . . . America affirms . . . its commitment to helping those in captive nations achieve democracy.” These are, at least to Iranian ears, truly revolutionary words for an American president. One has to go back to Woodrow Wilson to find an American leader who so clearly directs his message far outside the West. And Wilson’s call for self-determination, made in the declining years of European empire, addressed collective, “national” ethnic aspirations more than the liberal rights of individuals.

Very interesting.

UPDATE: Diane E. at Letter from Gotham says she was posting on this months ago.

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