Just in case you're planning to feel nostalgic for the Bush administration — okay, okay, not you, at least until you're drafted into Obama's Civilian National Security Force — it's a good mental health practice to remember who W. selected to represent our defective, waste-of-space nation to the world.
Our outgoing Secretary of State, neocon pin-up Condoleeza Rice, has consented to share her worldview with The New York Times. Some choice specimens (Ms. Rice's words in italics, your blogger's in Roman):
Electing a black president says around the world that you can overcome old wounds. I’ve said in our case, We have a birth defect, but it can be overcome.
The second part of this has been pulverized by some real masters of invective, like Larry Auster, but don't tell me I can't pile on. So the candidate who was supposed to transcend race was elected, according to Ms. Rice, because only someone of his race could "overcome." We were a wounded country because of a melanin-challenged Oval Office. The United States had a birth defect, as though every other country in the world was perfect from the moment of founding. All the civil rights legislation, all the minority aid programs, all the affirmative action hiring, all the government contract set-asides, all the laws making blacks a "protected class," all the foundation grants for black enterprises, all the "hate crimes" legislation, all the speech codes — it all counts for nada until we get an affirmative action president.
I’ve seen too many peoples dismissed as not ready for self-government. First it was Asians, and then Latin Americans and Africans were there for a while. I know for a while black Americans were, too.
Really? Who was it, exactly, who said Asians and Latin Americans were not ready for self-government? In your own lifetime, Condi, please, not centuries ago. True, there were people who said Africans were not ready for self-government, but all those wicked people are gone or marginalized now. Anyone can look at Zimbabwe or South Africa and see how wrong they were.
I’ve seen it said, well, you know: They’re illiterate; how could they vote? And then you see in Afghanistan people line up for long, long lines. Because somehow they know that making a choice matters.
You've seen it said, well, like, you know. Democracy is just "making a choice," doesn't have anything to do with literacy and, well, like that. If you can line up, you're ready to decide questions of state.
These neocons can't wrap their heads around the idea that self-government demands more from a population than just checking boxes or voting for their own favorite warlord. To make the ballot more than elective tyranny or farce, a voting public must (among other things) have a basic agreement about fundamental principles, understanding of the rule of law, loyalty to something greater than their clan or even co-religionists, the ability to understand and discuss issues, and the ability to consider long-term consequences of acts. We aren't that good at it ourselves. We certainly can't inject it in a culture with values that are utterly different from ours.
I think that over the last several years, because of a more assertive American voice on this, there have been some real gains — like women in Kuwait voting or like Iraq, which is an imperfect and fragile and still-emerging democracy but one that is multiconfessional, multiethnic and in the center of the Arab world.
We've bankrupted ourselves six times over, sent four or five thousand of our and our allies' soldiers to be deconstructed into collections of body parts, crippled thousands of others for life, cut the response capability of our military to next to zero — but hey, stop being so negative, women in Kuwait are voting. We've spent citizens' lives to bring a "multiconfessional," "multiethnic" society to Iraq? Meaning what, Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish Muslims?
Perhaps she was out of the room when the briefing officer mentioned that all those "confessions" and ethnicities were in Iraq before our nation building cannon fodder dropped in. I suppose she really believes that Sunni and Shia are kind of like the First Baptists and the Free Will Baptists back in Alabama, goin' to different churches of a Sunday, but marchin' in the same parade and gettin' together for the picnic. Equally, she must believe that in "multiconfessional" Iraq, after five years of carnage on all sides, Iraqis can choose to open a First Baptist Church in Baghdad.
I have no doubt that democracy is the best form of government. I’m very optimistic that it is one whose reach is increasing throughout the world. I would just urge all Americans to understand how our advice is taken. And to be careful how we offer advice.
Yes, people can take it the wrong way when you invade their country.
For many people in the world, they look at America, and they see an enormous country with an extraordinary amount of power. Pure power. And so they feel that asymmetry immediately as soon as they meet us.
Very telling. For Ms. Rice, the only meaning of America — aside from its birth defect and gaping wound — is power. Not constitutional government (something far more complex and subtle than the golden calf of democracy she worships). Not a careful balance of power among different branches of government and between the states and the federal government. Not individuals. Not their historic roots and local traditions.
No, America is just power — "pure power" — and that asymmetry isn't right. Not democratic. Not a birth defect maybe, but a moral outrage that must be atoned for by making every other country asymmetrically powerful. The only legitimate use of our power is bringing democracy to the world, and damn the cost in blood and money.
Whatever mischief the new Supreme Leader has planned for us, he'll have to work hard to outdo the legacy of his predecessors.