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Thursday, August 24

Pundita has been thinking, thinking, thinking

If you have not yet read Norman Podhoretz's Is the Bush Doctrine Dead? all you need do is Google the essay to get an idea of how much discussion it's touched off in US foreign policy circles and the blogosphere. As Powerline's Paul Mirengoff observes:
Mr. Podhoretz does a great job of exposing a number of myths -- from nearly all positions on the political spectrum -- about the Bush Doctrine and the extent of its author's adherence thereto.
To expose the myths Podhoretz makes short work of the embalmed thinking represented by William F. Buckley Jr. and George Will, the gargoyles still guarding the Council on Foreign Relations, and a host of chipmunks posing as learned commentators.

But the essay does more than dispute; it also proposes. In particular it reviews the "four pillars" that Norman Podhoretz has proposed as the foundation for the Bush Democracy Doctrine. It is the four pillars that plunged Pundita into deep thought. I note that Paul Mirengoff's brow is also furrowed in thought:
In the end, I agree that the Bush Doctrine is not dead. However, I fear that the Doctrine may have a fever due to a serious tension between two of its primary elements.
It is important not to get lost in the thicket: there are Bush's statements, and there are Mr. Podhoretz's pillars, which are not necessarily a seamlessly correct interpretation of the doctrine. But let us not beat around the bush; Mirengoff targets a conflict between incidents on the ground and the belief that democracy is the best antidote to terrorism. Then he takes a side in the conflict that might be called irrational but only if you're not in the crosshairs of a terrorist attack.

So now you have some idea of why Pundita has been lost in thought for days. If you've not yet had the fun of reading Podhoretz's long but beautifully written essay I suggest you settle down with it before turning to Mirengoff's pithy commentary.

I also point you to Saad Eddin Ibrahim's very important editorial for Wednesday's Washington Post titled The 'New Middle East' Bush is Resisting. His comments zero in on the very question Mirengoff raises and are a wonderful summary of the US compromises between short-term strategic interests in the Middle East and the aim of the Democracy Doctrine.*

Norman Podhoretz musters a defense of the compromises: the US had to make many compromises while fighting the Cold War and one should be grown up about the compromises needed to fell this century's global enemy. Although the defense is comforting I am not sure it stands up to brute logic.

If you complain I haven't given you enough reading for the week, you might wish to read or review We had to destroy this democracy to save it, which I published in November 2005. Note that no one in Washington has gotten around to tackling the sly question Pundita posed: "What is the difference between a market economy and a democracy?"

That is enough musing out loud. I return now to pondering those four pillars. Ready or not I will post on the status of my cogitations by noon Saturday. Until then, I hope you will join me in thinking on Podhoretz's many challenging points.

* As of this writing, the editorial is not yet available online without registering at the Post; if it's not available Thursday by 4:00 PM Eastern time I will post the entire writing at that time for readers who hate registering at websites.

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