Iran’s Attack on Saudi Arabia Reveals Our Foreign Policy Muddle

As I regularly note, Bruce Thornton, like his friend Victor Davis Hanson, is one of my favorite writers — here he addresses our “foreign policy muddle.”

In that article he explained in two paragraphs how President George W. Bush went wrong with the Iraq war. Here are those two paragraphs preceded by the end of the paragraph leading up to them — first, the lede: “We’re stuck in fossilized paradigms while our enemies grow stronger.”

After 9/11 we did recover some of that lost respect with the swift victories in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those successes were the monitory “examples” that got Syria’s Bashar Assad out of Lebanon, and convinced Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi to dismantle his nuclear weapon facilities–– and to let us watch him do it.

But then this muscular realism was enervated by George W. Bush’s moralizing internationalism, based on yet another failure of imagination––ignoring the fundamental differences over “moral principles” that exist in other cultures, especially Islam. Ignoring that diversity, in 2002, before the Iraq War, Bush identified our foreign policy strategy as the promotion of the “single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy, and free enterprise,” for “these values of freedom are right and true for every person, in every society.” Thus the U.S. will strive “to extend the benefits of freedom across the globe. We will actively work to bring the hope of democracy, development, free markets, and free trade to every corner of the world.”

Based on these delusions, the punitive wars of deterrence morphed into democracy promotion in cultures with a religion that for 14 centuries both in word and deed has demonstrated its scorn for our Western ideals and its “benefits” like political freedom, human rights, and prosperity. Just as the similar idealism that hyped the stillborn “Arab Spring,” this stale paradigm of democracy promotion did nothing to restrain Iran and Syria, and contributed to more disorder in the Middle East, Iran and Russia filling the power vacuum our fecklessness created in Syria, more and better missiles for Hezbollah and Hamas, and more lethal threats to our ally Israel.

Read more: Frontpage Mag

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