|Bush unclouded by
By Jim Lobe
WASHINGTON - Kicking off his second
four-year term, US President George W Bush on
Thursday delivered an inaugural address filled
with the righteous resolve and soaring rhetoric
that are music to his core constituency, but will
almost certainly grate on the nerves of almost
everybody else, both here in the United States and
The speech, which was studded with
religious references, was dominated by a sense of
certainty and even triumphalism about Washington's
special mission to spread "freedom" and "liberty"
- words he used more than 40 times in an
1,800-word address - throughout the world.
He even argued that the US's very survival
depended on exporting freedom abroad. "We are led,
by events and common sense, to one conclusion," he
declared, evoking the "mortal threat" posed by
violence arising from "resentment and tyranny".
"The survival of liberty in our land increasingly
depends on the success of liberty in other lands.
So it is the policy of the United States to seek
and support the growth of democratic movements and
institutions in every nation and culture, with the
ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world," he
said, adding, "This is not primarily the task of
arms, though we will defend ourselves and our
friends by force of arms when necessary."
While insisting that Washington's goal is
"to help others find their own voice, attain their
own freedom, and make their own way" - rather than
to impose "its own style of government" - Bush
warned that his administration will not be shy
about pushing its agenda.
influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for
the oppressed, America's influence is
considerable, and we will use it confidently in
freedom's cause," he said, adding that "we will
persistently clarify the choice before every ruler
and every nation: the moral choice between
oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom,
which is eternally right".
the inaugural speech, which takes place outside
the Capitol, is used by presidents to set out
their grand visions rather than their concrete
plans, which are normally the subject of a State
of the Union address that takes place inside
Congress several days later.
some analysts expressed surprise at the
foreign-policy sweep of Bush's vision, the almost
total lack of specificity that it contained, and
the almost total certainty with which it was
"It very much reminds one of
John Kennedy's inaugural address [in 1961] about
Americans being willing to 'bear any burden [in
order to assure the survival and the success of
liberty]' - and that's what got us into Vietnam,"
said Jonathan Clarke, an expert at the libertarian
several analysts commented, was Bush's failure to
cite explicitly the situation in Iraq, except when
he noted that "our country has accepted
obligations that are difficult to fulfill, and
would be dishonorable to abandon".
there were indirect references to sacrifice,"
noted Lee Feinstein, who heads foreign-policy
studies in the Washington office of the Council on
Foreign Relations, "his failure to mention Iraq
explicitly speaks to the administration's
Iraq represents a
serious credibility problem for Bush's insistence
that Washington does not wish to impose democracy
on other countries, according to Ivan Eland of the
California-based Independent Institute (II) and
author of The Emperor Has No Clothes, a
realist critique of Bush's foreign policy (see
review, America undressed,
November 13, 2004).
"When he says freedom
must be chosen," said Eland, "that's not what
happened in Iraq. The Iraqis had no choice,
because it was the US government that decided to
'liberate' it. Now, they're faced with what could
be a full-blown civil war. Bush thinks it's going
to work out, but most experts don't agree."
Indeed, according to recent polls, a
growing majority of the public also lacks
confidence in Washington's mission in Iraq, and
Bush offered nothing to reassure them on Thursday
other than to remind them that "Americans, of all
people, should never be surprised by the power of
"This really falls on a very
divided nation," said Marina Ottaway, a democracy
expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International
Peace, an influential think-tank here.
"The speech was really tailored for
hardcore Bush supporters, but for those who have
become very skeptical, including many people who
voted for Bush, the speech will [be] very
difficult to follow. It declares the success of
our policies at a time when there are an
increasingly large number of people who see Iraq
as a mistake."
Ottaway, who co-edited a
new book on US efforts to promote democracy in the
Middle East, Uncharted Journey, also
predicted that the speech is likely to be poorly
received abroad, particularly in the Arab world,
for what will be seen as its hypocrisy and double
standards - a point much echoed by other
"The rhetoric about the
United States serving as a beacon for democracy
and human freedom doesn't jibe well with the
resentment toward the US that is building around
the globe and with the chaos that has ensued in
Iraq following the American invasion," agreed
Charles Kupchan, a foreign-policy expert at the
Council on Foreign Relations.
were watching this on al-Jazeera or al-Arabiya"
television stations, he added, "this speech would
do more to incite cynicism about US motives than
Kupchan and Clarke stressed
that the absence of details as to how his
administration intends to achieve its goal of
eradicating tyranny and promoting freedom - and
particularly when to use military force - made the
speech an unreliable predictor of what Bush will
do in his second term.
"If the United
States opposes tyranny and supports freedom, who
wouldn't support that?" said Kupchan. "If, on the
other hand, that agenda is carried out through a
series of military invasions, then Americans and
everyone else has reason to be quite worried about
the second term."
John Gershman, director
of Foreign Policy in Focus, a liberal-left
think-tank, had an even more pessimistic take. He
noted the contrast between Bush's speech and that
of Woodrow Wilson's second inaugural address,
which also extolled democratic government as a top
US foreign-policy goal.
"But Wilson framed
that mission in terms of a concern of the 'family
of nations', decidedly not as a nationalist,
unilateralist crusade of the kind that Bush is
putting forward," Gershman said, adding, "Any
doubts that this second term will be marked by
less Manichean [good versus evil], more nuanced
approaches to foreign policy should be dismissed
by this address."
"Bush's agenda is even
more ambitious than Wilson's," noted Eland.
"Wilson only wanted to make the world safe for
democracy, but Bush wants to make the world
democratic - and to do so at the point of a gun,
(To read the full text of
Bush's inaugural speech click here)
All material on this
website is copyright and may not be republished in any form without written
© Copyright 1999 - 2005 Asia Times
Office: Rm 202, Hau Fook Mansion, No. 8 Hau Fook St., Kowloon, Hong
11/13 Petchkasem Road, Hua Hin, Prachuab Kirikhan, Thailand 77110
Asian Sex Gazette Sex and Religion News