When you read that Jordan's King Abdullah is taking steps to organize new elections in his country, with regional election districts that look a lot like Iraq's, you realize just how wrong my friend Peggy Noonan is when she writes that President Bush's inaugural speech "forgot context."
When you read the latest fatwa from the murdering terrorist Zarqawi, that it is our democratic, freedom-embracing way of life that makes us the enemy, you realize how wrong Noonan is in calling Bush's vision of eradicating tyranny worldwide "rhetorical and emotional overreach of the most embarrassing sort."
When you recall FDR's famous address of more than 60 years ago, when he talked about a world founded upon four essential human freedoms (to speak and worship freely, as well as the freedom from want and fear), you realize how mistaken Noonan is when she tries to restrain Bush's vision.
Go back and reread Bush's second inaugural speech. He says, "There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment ... the force of human freedom." He declares, "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands." He states that supporting democratic movements with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world "is not primarily the task of arms." Read all this, and you know how wrong Noonan truly is.
Inaugural speeches should be about vision, and great American presidents in pursuit of great causes should always seek great visions. If the United States doesn't do it, nobody will. But Noonan suggests that the overthrow of dictators and would-be tyrants would unleash ugly garbage, creating bigger messes. That's exactly the balance-of-power detente-ism that failed so miserably in the 1970s, before Reagan put and end to it. It's the so-called realist perspective that led us nowhere in the 1990s, as presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, on the advice of their key advisors, refused to take stern action against terrorist-harboring dictatorship states. It was precisely this failure that led to the 9-11 attacks. Lob an occasional bomb or two? Coddle the terrorist-harboring dictators? That's the realism that George W. Bush has pledged his presidency to stop.