The lessons of history

Defeating "Islamic Fascism."  This week defeating Islamic Fascists became the primary goal of our foreign policy.  But can this can be our primary goal?  What can history, for example, tell us?

Let's look at the lesson of World War II.  In that era our national strategy was to foster democracy, the rule of law, liberty and free markets around the world.  We defeated the fascists of that era, who were a virulent threat to our vision, through war; and built lasting democracies and peace through institutions like the United Nations, NATO, the IMF, the World Bank and the far-sighted investments of the Marshall Plan.  Defeating the fascists of that time was a tactic, a way of getting to the end goal - global peace and prosperity, and flourishing democracies that cherished liberty, the rule of law and open markets. 

Bush and co seem to have no similar strategy.  They seem only concerned to with defeating those who disagree with us through war; they have no serious strategy for achieving lasting peace and prosperity, or deploying the formula that worked so well after WWII - democracy, the rule of law, liberty and free markets.  

If we are to learn the lessons of history - as this Administration suggests - then we must get much more serious about promoting - in word and deed - our commitment to the formula that worked so well before.  But this means that in bringing peace and prosperity to the Middle East hat there can be no sacrifice of our commitment to liberty through warrantless spying; no sacrifice of our commitment to Geneva conventions; no sacrifice of our commitment to the rule of law by allowing political parties with funded militias to participate in democratic elections; or no "nation building" in Iraq without a serious plan or a serious political commitment to bring it about. 

The Bush Administration has confused means with ends.  The end goal of foreign policy should be to foster a peaceful and prosperous world.  Defeating "Islamic Fascism" is certainly one of the main tactics we should use to achieve our goals, but it cannot be an end in itself.  To me that is the greatest lesson of World War II.  As we re-learning in Iraq today. 

Comments