Sunday Update: Steyn on the President holding 'all the aces'
Arthur Chrenkoff doesn't like the term neo-conservative, but he sure as anything is prepared to defend its principles. Faced with flashpoints like Fallujah he'd have us remember two understandings: that the end-goal is harmony through reasonable political settlement, and that some people respond to reasonable overtures with utter rejection. His thoughtful piece here.
Meanwhile Niall Ferguson has been parroting the Spectator/French/Matthew Parris line that Bush deserves to lose and it would be good for conservatives if he does. Captain Ed has some bones to pick with that theory.
My view is that Bush is not nearly as weak as Ferguson would need him to be to fit his theory. He's certainly far more coherent than John Major was (a parallel between Major and Bush is the central plank of Niall's argument), and he's achieved vastly more than Major ever did. Bush has ideas, whereas Major had nostrums. Bush is patriotic whereas Major had an absurd fantasy of Englishness. Major created his own problems, like the ERM, or Maastricht which radically restricted Britain's political autonomy, whereas Bush has had to deal with 9/11- the biggest challenge imaginable (to the economy as well as the military) and has still found time to re-allign the debate on Kyoto in favour of ditching it. Much of what has followed 9/11 has been attempting to ride the shockwaves while going out to defend America.
It's basically Bush's determined leadership that has offended people left, right and centre, not any perceived ineptitude. He's recognised the need to change the basis of international relations, and the US too. Consequently he's upset a lot of applecarts, as he needed to do, and made a lot of people less comfortable, all the way from foreign despots to liberal-conservative pundits.
True, there are arguments he hasn't gone far enough on some occasions, but these are mostly specious because Bush has made enemies by being radical, so there's no way that people who already have cold feet could stomach him upsetting even more people through being utterly ruthless. Such people tend to be like John Kerry vis a vis the Swift Vets- they're all for bringing it on until, suddenly, they want make it stop.
Brave people take the Chrenkoff line, and stick to it.
Norman Podhoretz (30, 000 words- great Sunday reading) made what I consider the best statement of Bush's approach, and explains why it's right.