The speech I wish Bush would make

Bush has shown remarkable courage in sticking to his guns in the war. However, his actions are not matched by his words. He’s too polite, too worried, to well-counseled, too restrained for whatever reason to call things as they are. John Howard, Australia’s Prime Minister, is not so constrained, as you can see in his speech celebrating the 50th anniversary of Quadrant, a conservative magazine that was a loud voice during the Cold War and that continues to be outspoken in the struggle against Islamic jihad:

It’s important on an occasion like this we remember not just the big ideological struggles but also the individuals who took up the cause of cultural freedom and the defence of liberal democracy against its enemies.

With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Soviet communism, it became all too easy to pretend that the outcome of the Cold War was an inevitable result of large-scale, impersonal forces that ultimately left totalitarianism exhausted and democratic capitalism triumphant. Nothing could be further from the truth. This was a struggle fought by individuals on behalf of the individual spirit.

And Quadrant holds an honoured place in Australian history for the stance it took for democratic freedom and a pluralist society and in opposition to collectivist ideologies that so many saw as the inevitable wave of the future.

It’s worth recalling just a few of the philo-communism that was once quite common in Australia in the 1950’s and 60’s. For example, Manning Clark’s book Meeting Soviet Man where he likened the ideals of Vladimir Lenin to those of Jesus Christ. John Burton, the former head of the External Affairs Department, arguing that Mao’s China provided a model for the ‘transformation’ of Australia. All those who did not simply oppose Australia’s commitment in Vietnam, but who actively supported the other side and fed the delusion that Ho Chi Minh was some sort of Jeffersonian Democrat intent on spreading liberty in Asia.

To quote George Orwell: ‘One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool’. There is a view that the pro-communist left in Australia in decades past was no more than a bunch of naïve idealists, rather than what they were – ideological barrackers for regimes of oppression opposed to Australia and its interests.

In taking on the Communist left and their fellow-travellers, people like Richard Krygier, James McAuley, Peter Coleman, Bob Santamaria, Heinz Arndt and Frank Knopfelmacher were not only right in practice, they were right in principle and part of a noble and moral cause.

The influence of the pro-communist left in Australian cultural circles did wane over time, after Hungary and Kruschev’s secret speech in 1956 and further still after the brutal suppression of the Prague Spring in 1968. In the 1960’s and 70’s, it largely gave way to a New Left counter culture, where once again Quadrant served as a beacon of free and sceptical thought against fashionable leftist views on social, foreign policy and economic issues.

In the eyes of the New Left, the Cold War became a struggle defined by ‘moral equivalence’, where the Soviet bloc and the American-led West were equally to blame, each possessing their own dominating ideologies. It became the height of intellectual sophistication to believe that people in the West were no less oppressed than people under the yoke of communist dictatorship.

In time, the world would luckily see the emergence of three remarkable individuals whose moral clarity punctured such nonsense. Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II.

Reagan, the man who gave America back her confidence and optimism in the wake of a decade of setbacks and who began to talk openly and candidly about an ‘evil empire’ – the sort of talk that sends diplomats the world over into panicked meltdown.

Thatcher, the Iron Lady who as well as anyone grasped and articulated the essential connection of personal, political and economic freedom.

Pope John Paul II – a man of enormous courage and dignity whose words of faith and hope inspired millions behind the Iron Curtain to dream again of a Europe whole and free.

All of us here tonight owe a particular debt of gratitude to these three towering figures of the late 20th Century.

***

Having spoken earlier about Quadrant’s role in the defining global struggle of the second half of the 20th Century, let me say just a few words about the global struggle we now face at the start of the 21st Century.

Today, free and open societies face a new tyranny, the tyranny of Islamist terrorism. One with at least a family resemblance to the great struggles against forces of totalitarianism in the past. A Czech writer once wrote with great prescience that: ‘You can’t build utopia without terror, and before long terror is all that’s left’.

And just as past struggles called for clear and unambiguous statements of belief and purpose, so we must again make very clear what is at stake. Let me say what I have said many times before. This is not a struggle against Islam. It is a struggle against a perverted interpretation of Islam. As we see on a daily basis, it is the terrorists and suicide bombers who eagerly set out to spread terror and to kill innocent Muslim civilians. Countries with their sons and daughters serving in Iraq and Afghanistan today would like nothing more than to see them complete their job and return home.

To those who want to portray the West as anti-Muslim, I would say that it was not the Arab League who went to war in the 1990’s on behalf of Muslim minorities in the Balkans. It was the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and their NATO allies. Let me also remind people who now talk as if Iraq was some kink of pro-Islamic tranquillity before 2003 that the person who’s probably killed more Muslims in history than anyone else is Saddam Hussein.

There are, as Owen Harries, an honoured guest tonight properly reminds us, people who legitimately opposed the original action to oust Saddam Hussein, but it remains, to borrow a phrase, an inconvenient truth that if some countries such as the United States, if countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia simply abandon the people of Iraq this would be an enormous victory for the forces of terror and extremism around the world.

The fact is that we are part of a global campaign for the very ideals that some people wistfully dreamed were unchallengeable after the Cold War. No less than in that long, twilight struggle, this too will be a generational struggle for ideals of democratic freedom and liberty under the law.

Hat tip: The Dennis Prager Show

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Comments

  1. Marguerite says

    To polite, to worried, to well counseled . . . well said, BW. I stand there in front of the TV when GW speaks and silently beg him to drop the try-to-please-everyone-even-the-enemy voice and break free into unmeasured and uncounseled passion, as in “Mr Gorbechev, tear down this wall!”

  2. says

    Maybe Bush is John Howard’s poodle, instead of those Prime Ministers being Bush’s poodle, eh?

    A lot of people feel the same things that you and Marquerite have felt, Bookworm. The same thing that makes Bush unbulliable in Iraq and Afghanistan, also makes him resistant to critically productive change from his allies and supporters. The rock is strong yet it cannot yield, thus eventually it will be worn away by the winds of time and the waters of fate.

    One of Bush’s critically bad phrases is “I understand that “. Look, you may understand Mr. President, but that don’t mean it actually communicates any understanding to other people. Almost every one of Bush’s statements leaves the audience’s mind open, as if an ending had been cut short or a connection not made. This sieve, creates a hole in the walls of the people’s minds. If he doesn’t plug the gap, someone else, our enemies, will. Bush doesn’t really expound on scenarios or historical analogies, like Hannibal Barca, Lincoln, or Truman. Sometimes he mentions, but it is always in defense, as if to explain that he isn’t psycho, other more moderate leaders were his role models as well. He should explain the lessons he learned from Lincoln then. Relate stories of what he thought when he read books on Lincoln. You know, actually have a “dialogue”, as if his podium was a “blog” instead of somewhere to cast accussations or make excuses.

    The only time, the only time, I remember he talking about how he felt what people felt, was when he was talking about Democrats and people who didn’t vote him. Bush, I remember, said that he knows of their disagreement and such. That is not exactly balanced when he doesn’t follow up on it, or treat his allies the same way. He doesn’t say to his backers, that he understands our need for more proactive action and less UN bribing. But he will say to the Left that he is here, available, to appease them, to go to the NAACP meetings. Instead of inviting Cindy Sheehan to a meeting with all the parents of soldiers who have died in the war, he is out on a limb talking about whatever he was talking about.

    If you noticed, as I noticed, there’s a lot of mothers who publicly disagree with Cindy Sheehan. If Bush finds himself in a hole, and unable to attack Cindy, all he has to do is channel the rage and frustration of all those parents he met with after 9/11. It helps him politically, and it helps the parents emotionally to be able to vent at someone to the tilt. But no, channeling that much rage and frustration would seem to be perhaps too “proactive” and aggressive, for Mr. Bush.

    The job of the President is to channel the energy and power of the United States citizenry. That includes compassion, mercy, kindness as well as rage, killer instincts, and various other emotions.

    When the President is able to fully channel the power of the United States citizenry, his power knows almost no bounds as with just after 9/11. Failing to harness such power, however, will lead to backlash and wild surges of power, destructive power that knows not what it targets.

    If the President cannot focus the power of the United States, then he obviously cannot do any UN “diplomatic game” or get “allies” or convince the Arabs of anything. Convincing foreigners is always harder than convincing those at your home.

    Bush says “I know what the threat is”. Ya, and how exactly do I know that you know? These questions pop into your head automatically. Oration and rhetoric is a skill that is designed to lead a person’s thinking down a certain path. As such it contains elements of manipulation, sleight of hand, as well as inspirational elements. Bush’s rhetoric skills is like some horse and wagon coach going at 50 miles per hour. There are HUGE pot holes, that are REALLY noticeable on your rear. Oration and rhetoric, of the Reagan, Lincoln, and Clinton status is like the Corvette. Very smooth ride, at higher speeds than any horse and carriage.

    The only time Bush ever gets points in his rhetoric, is when he is angry. When Bush is angry, he is able to exert much more force and charisma across the camera. When Bush speaks in front of a military audience, he commands a certain aura, that he does not in front of the White House press corps. It would really help out Bush if the only time he would give speeches is to the United States military. Use those speeches to communicate to the American people, not his “other” ones. Bush’s 1 on 1 charisma is there, nobody could be elected to the Presidency without 1 on 1 charisma and command aura. So Bush should treat his speeches as if he is having a conversation with somebody. But he lacks that skill, a skill Reagan might have taught him but his father cannot.

    His advisers either don’t see this, don’t care, or think it is irrelevant. It is not that Bush does not listen to his advisers, it is more like he is the kind of ruler that listens to his advisers too much. He listened too much to Tony Blair and the State Department, for example. Bush tries to let his associates get together and come up with a plan. But this is Washington DC politics we are talking about. If you just let the Department of State and the Department of Defense try to COBBLE together a plan in committe, do you know what will happen? A bunch of useless crap, that is what. They will be too busy fighting each other for power to ever come up with some “plan”, unified or not.

    So Bush instead of listening to his advisers and people he selected to lead departments, Bush should just tell them what they are going to do, and then overrule any objections somebody else might have. If the guy fails, fire him. If he succedes, promote him. If the State Dep wants a crack at the stuff, give them 150% control and power, and kick out the Department of Defense. After enough American casualties occur, then you can kick out the State Dep and tell everyone that they messed up.

    When Bush says that he listens to both sides, that is exactly what he does. He listens, he does not command, he does not override, he listens. And when people start bickering, he still listens instead of kicking somebody out of the seat of power.

    When the Generals start bickering, all Bush does is listen to his commanders and then listen to the commanders say that they listened to the other Generals. How about you get one of those Generals that don’t agree with the war plan, put him in command of a division, and then send him to the front lines and see what happens. There’s nothing like war to prove who is right and wrong.

    For someone in charge of America’s military, Bush sure doesn’t give a lot of orders you know.

    It’s funny, but Donald Trump’s management style might actually be better. At the least, he knows how to get some drama and effects into things. Or his director knows, or maybe he is the director. The funny thing, is though, that Donald Trump isn’t for the war. He treats like a business model where you can always make a “deal”, and yet his management is on average pretty good. Bush treats war like a war, yet his management kind of sucks.

    Talk about going with the army you have instead of the army you want.

  3. jg says

    From Helen: “The Speech I Wish Bush Would Make

    I resign.”

    Despite all the hate, filth, and vituperation of those who hate the President, and America– Mr. Bush is, as Y says, made of sterner stuff, Helen. He’s withstood Helen’s type; the lies of the Left; the stupidities of too many other self-seeking American citizens; and global terrorism.

    He has gotten us through.

    Americans really don’t deserve a leader of his immense stature. I’m sure he’s anticipating the day he no longer has to bear the weight of America.

    Until then: Helen is safe, all the twisted minds of the Democrats and the Left are safe– and every part of America is safe.. Until.

  4. erp says

    Hasn’t everyone noticed yet that our dumb bunny president has won in every confrontation with the smarties on the left and he’ll be fighting for our freedom and safety until his last moment in the White House. After which he’ll leave the Oval Office intact, no broken keypads, no filth on the walls and especially no pardons for drug dealers, tax evaders and child molesting perverts.

    Once out of public life, it’s doubtful Bush will criticize the next president in any way, shape or form.

  5. Danny Lemieux says

    I recall reading someone’s description of GW Bush as one of those great rocks in the Pacific, against which great waves endless smash themselves into little droplets. This description predated his presidency. Regarding the HLs and the rest of the BusHitlerChimpyMcHaliburton crowd, their time, too, shall pass. All that will be left for them to do is to have conversations with themselves as they marinate in their own bile. George Bush shall pass and I think history will judge him well, especially in view of what is to come. To paraphrase the famous Chinese curse: once GW’s gone, HLosse just may get what she wishes for.

  6. says

    There’s three types of “winning”, erp. There’s the Hannibal kind, the King Pyrric kind, and the Sun Tzu kind.

    There are big differences between those three, and whatever additional ones you may tack on.

    The Hannibal one is where you win all the battles, and lose the war. Vietnam was one of those.

    The Pyrric victory one is where you win the battle or the war, but you are so weakened due to casualties suffered that you won’t win the next or you only win the current war in a nominal fashion instead of a decisive one.

    The Sun Tzu version, is where you win without having to fight at all, via using psychological pressure and power projection to create a checkmate, without having to deal with any of the other more powerful pieces on the board.

    President only applies for the first and the second. Bush is fighting against the first, and slipping into the second. Every “victory” he has, has a bunch of compromises and ridiculous illogical things tacked on, things like GitMo Geneva Protections and various other things. The UN, not killing Syria, and so forth are other things.

    Bush cannot be characterized as having any decisive victories on his record, not even Afghanistan because the on the ground CIA operative did not get his requested troop support.

    To paraphrase the famous Chinese curse: once GW’s gone, HLosse just may get what she wishes for.

    When Bush is gone, then things become really interesting. You haven’t seen interesting times yet, so far, Danny.

  7. erp says

    Neither wishing nor saying make it so. Y– I disagree completely with your analysis.

    Every human endeavor is a series of compromises, but when the results are tallied, Bush will be the winner, but only as a proxy for the U.S. His aren’t personal victories. Bush said, and I think he quoted Reagan, that one person can accomplish a lot if he or she doesn’t care who gets the blame or the credit.

    The left will pull out all the stops in ’06 and ’08 knowing full well that if after all the lies and spin, and billionaires raining down dollars, they still can’t win a majority, world socialism will indeed be dead and awaiting only a stake in the heart for final burial.

    The U.N. will be defunct and can safely be removed to Brussels where the ragtag remnants of lunatic moonbats can live out the rest of their lives serving the Islamic fundamentalists with whom they are so smitten.

  8. says

    Neither wishing nor saying make it so

    That generality, or saying, doesn’t do anything to counter my arguments, you know.

    Another situation in which compromises were made and the results tallied, was Gulf War 1 with his father in charge. It ended up being tallied as a victory, but in reality it just a problem that got pushed off on the next President(s) and the next decade of Americans. While I’m not saying that this will happen with Bush, it is certainly leading up to given President Bush’s current policies and actions, or inactions as the case may be. But he still has 2 years, to do something more, i suppose.

    You can’t really say with any degree of historical accuracy, that when all things are said and done, that Bush will be the winner. All things have not been said and done, and even if they were, you are not in a position to look back into the past and see what has happened. You can only look into the future, therefore on that scale, my analysis of the future is stronger in foundation than your review, because your review hinges upon information that has not yet occured.

    The left is not Bush’s real problem, they never were. Their defeat, does not signify any real sense of victory in the future.

    The U.N. will be defunct and can safely be removed to Brussels where the ragtag remnants of lunatic moonbats can live out the rest of their lives serving the Islamic fundamentalists with whom they are so smitten.

    And this will happen because Bush gave the next President a helping hand by providing the UN with loads of US aided credibility, time, and personal political capital in the form of negotiations, bribes, and speeches that improved the prestige of the UN?

    I think not. I don’t predict the future based upon what will happen or what I think will happen, I analyze the future trends based upon what has happened.

  9. jg says

    “When Bush is gone, then things become really interesting.”

    My sister viewed a recent Nat. Geographic(?) look at China. She was surprised at the amount of information the West was allowed to see; there were massive accomplishments in every area. They are preparing, she concluded, for something.

    The MSM’s ill-educated experts have yet to discover the Chinese dragon.

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