“…the ultimate hope comes through democracy. It comes through the same liberties that you and I enjoy. Why should we think that the people of the Middle East, the people of Afghanistan, the people of Iraq want any less than we want.” – Condoleezza Rice.
If you want to put that into modern science-fiction terms…. “We are the Borg. Negotiation is irrelevant. You will be assimilated. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own.”
Yesterday, I referred briefly to the doctrine of Jeffersonian Democracy. Today, I’ve just finished watching/listening to the Lateline interview with Condoleezza Rice. I’ve changed my view on the Bush administrations political style. It’s not at all in the Jeffersonian mold, other than it adopts selected tenets. Bush has most definitely adopted the tenet of spreading what Thomas Jefferson called the “Empire of Liberty”, as clearly expressed by Condoleezza Rice in the above passage, but certainly doesn’t go out of it’s way to avoid “entangling alliances”.
Under Bush, government bureaucracy has grown enormously in direct contravention to the real Jeffersonian ideal of a small, weak executive, with the real power of government devolved to the States. Defence spending is also much, much higher than ever before, not only creating, but cementing permanently the large standing military Jefferson said posed a danger to real democratic governance. Rather than pay down foreign and domestic debt, as espoused by Jefferson, Bush has spent far beyond the capacity of his administration in it’s present form to ever hope to repay. Certainly, times have changed markedly in the 200 years since Thomas Jefferson delivered his inaugural address. Agrarian societies no longer form the basis of the world’s developed cultures. We’re highly industrialised, self-centred cultures, with some less selfish examples, to be sure. The world has evolved to a point where standing armies are the order of the day because our insular attitudes over the last century have taught us that with pants down, running is not an option. We of the West seem to have come to the conclusion that our way of life, our excesses, indulgences, greed, materialism, our religion, our very societal structures are the only acceptable platform upon which the human species can hope to evolve. Some of us have determined to ensure that despite all hurdles, despite objections and obstinance from those who would prefer otherwise, we’re going to make those obstinant cultures adopt our ways because we know what’s best. We are civilised. They, are not. We are successful. They, are political, cultural and ideological failures. How utterly arrogant we have become!
I found myself wondering, as I watched Condoleezza Rice and listened to her words, just how much of what you’re saying do you really – in your heart of hearts – believe? The frightening realisation I formed by the end of the interview was that she really does believe 98% of what she espoused. She may not agree totally with the Iraq or Iran methodologies, or the lack of attention being paid to the likes of China, but I gathered a strong impression that she does embrace the “you-must-be-like-us-to-survive” doctrine. That’s not Jeffersonian. Thomas Jefferson would never have espoused a belief of cultural and political change at the point of a gun. Spread the democratic word, definitely, but not by force. Jefferson didn’t believe in forming alliances for the benefit of the United States alone. Thomas Jefferson would never have advocated a military takeover and regime change of another sovereign nation, no matter what attack was enacted against the United States.
Just as Bush has ignored the failures of Vietnam, it’s likely that some future American leader will fail to recall the lessons of the Bush regime. The Bush doctrine is brand new in terms of American foreign policy. Hopefully, it will be assigned to an appropriate place in history come January 2009, never to be re-activated. Jon Luc Picard won out over the Borg a few times, but they’re still out there, in the Trek Universe Delta Quadrant. Could American society ever hope to sustain another eight years of Bush doctrine? Could the world?