Trading places

Michael Kinsley in today's Washington Post:

America's proper role in promoting democracy and freedom in the world was a big issue in the 2000 presidential election. One of the candidates was a Wilsonian idealist, arguing that the prestige and even the military strength of the United States should be used to remake other governments in our image. The other candidate was contemptuous of this woolly-minded notion, saying that U.S. blood and treasure should be spent only in humanitarian emergencies or to protect our own narrowly defined self-interest.

The idealist won the election, in the opinion of many. But the skeptic took office. And then, guess what? The skeptic became a woolly-minded idealist. Democracy's a funny thing.

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Well, as Andrew Sullivan

Well, as Andrew Sullivan points out, Kinsley does seem to have forgotten about 9/11. It changed Bush's conception of national interest.

I'm not saying Bush is right, just that there's nothing very mysterious about this change.



doubtful. The PNAC document

doubtful. The PNAC document (and plenty of others) that was crafted by parts of the administration convinces me that it's not the case.

"Further, the process of transformation [of america's defenses], even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event ? like a new Pearl Harbor. "

My feeling is that sept.11th provided a good opportunity to do what the administration wanted to do already. Not that gore is a hihgminded "idealist" anyway.

It's also kind of funny to call America's violent interventionism "idealistic."