Principled realism, and being disliked
are the themes discussed by Paul Johnson and Victor Davis Hanson.
The first one, Principled Realism: Good For Both Parties, by Paul Johnson, explains
Nobody in his right mind–certainly not a President who believes in democracy and is a man of high principles–wants to use force. Force is a dangerous, blunt instrument. It is a step into the dark, with often unpredictable results. It is a weapon of last resort. But if Mr. Bush hadn’t been willing to use it, the Middle East would still be the same desolate, hopeless area it was at the time of 9/11–a region of cruel and irremovable dictatorship, where democracy had no charge and the people were resigned to perpetual oppression.
Bush’s use of force has changed all that. Democracy now has a chance; and freedom, perhaps, has a future. We can’t bank on anything, for the enemies of democracy and freedom are still powerful, heavily armed and totally ruthless. But hope is on the rise. The U.S. has planted the seeds of democracy, and its armed forces are in the area to ensure that those seeds are nurtured. That is progress.
I don’t care whether the Republicans or the Democrats win the struggle to appropriate the slogan “principled realism.” In fact, let them share it. What’s important is that both should practice it. It is always an excellent moment in the life of a democratic nation when the main political parties come together in agreement on a fundamental way of doing things. If Mr. Bush’s successful policy in the Middle East and its endorsement by American voters last November have achieved such a result–a coming together in principled realism–then America is in healthy shape
Johnson also has an article on the Five Marks of a Great Leader, namely,
- Moral courage
- A sense of priority
- The disposal of concentration and effort
Johnson’s article pertains leadership on a national level, but these traits apply to any situation.
Victor Davis Hanson’s article On Being Disliked: The new not-so-unwelcome anti-Americanism, explains,
All that being said, the disdain that European utopians, Arab dictatorships, the United Nations, and Mexico exhibit toward the United States is not — as the Kerry campaign alleged in the last election — cause for tears, but often reason to be proud, since much of the invective arises from the growing American insistence on principles abroad.
America should not gratuitously welcome such dislike; but we should not apologize for it either. Sometimes the caliber of a nation is found not in why it is liked, but rather in why it is not. By January 1, 1941, I suppose a majority on the planet — the Soviet Union, all of Eastern Europe, France, Italy, Spain, and even many elsewhere in occupied Europe, most of Latin America, Japan and its Asian empire, the entire Arab world, many in India — would have professed a marked preference for Hitler’s Germany over Churchill’s England.
Think about it. When Europe orders all American troops out; when Japan claims our textbooks whitewash the Japanese forced internment or Hiroshima; when China cites unfair trade with the United States; when South Korea says get the hell off our DMZ; when India complains that we are dumping outsourced jobs on them; when Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinians refuse cash aid; when Canada complains that we are not carrying our weight in collective North American defense; when the United Nations moves to Damascus; when the Arab Street seethes that we are pushing theocrats and autocrats down its throat; when Mexico builds a fence to keep us out; when Latin America proclaims a boycott of the culturally imperialistic Major Leagues; and when the world ignores American books, films, and popular culture, then perhaps we should be worried. But something tells me none of that is going to happen in this lifetime
I don’t expect so, either. However, I do agree with Claudia Rosett, who said, “I will hazard the prediction that if we of the free world stick to our principles–and, where necessary, defend them with our guns–we stand on the verge of a global renaissance.”