This democracy plan, you would think, would be something that both parties could agree upon. After all, don’t the democrats like to believe that their party stands for human rights and women’s rights? Sadly, this was not the case. Since his reelection, Democrats could not even agree with the president on promoting global democracy. Sick. Democrats declared war on Bush a long time ago. They were not about to start working with their enemy when there was much more important work to be done like destroying his presidency at all costs.
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Clockwise from top left: Bush promoting religious freedom in China, Bush is posted on placards in Azerbaijan, Bush is mobbed in Albania, Iraqi women carry Bush photos with them to the polling station on election day.
So, today the Washington Post reported that the democracy movement is faltering. There are still oppressive regimes operating as proof. The WaPo reported that Bush even told opposition leaders at the Prague Czernin Palace that he felt like a “dissident” in Washington.
(Bush said the same thing during his speech in Prague.)
I was at that speech a the Democracy and Security Conference and saw the president’s speech as another courageous step forward for the democracy movement. After all, Bush was the first president to travel the world to sit with opposition dissidents from oppressive regimes. It was a brilliant speech:
The most powerful weapon in the struggle against extremism is not bullets or bombs — it is the universal appeal of freedom. Freedom is the design of our Maker, and the longing of every soul. Freedom is the best way to unleash the creativity and economic potential of a nation. Freedom is the only ordering of a society that leads to justice. And human freedom is the only way to achieve human rights.
Expanding freedom is more than a moral imperative — it is the only realistic way to protect our people in the long run. Years ago, Andrei Sakharov warned that a country that does not respect the rights of its own people will not respond to the rights of its neighbors. History proves him right. Governments accountable to their people do not attack each other. Democracies address problems through the political process, instead of blaming outside scapegoats. Young people who can disagree openly with their leaders are less likely to adopt violent ideologies. And nations that commit to freedom for their people will not support extremists — they will join in defeating them.
For all these reasons, the United States is committed to the advance of freedom and democracy as the great alternatives to repression and radicalism. (Applause.) And we have a historic objective in view. In my second inaugural address, I pledged America to the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world. Some have said that qualifies me as a “dissident president.” If standing for liberty in the world makes me a dissident, I wear that title with pride. (Applause.)
America pursues our freedom agenda in many ways — some vocal and visible, others quiet and hidden from view. Ending tyranny requires support for the forces of conscience that undermine repressive societies from within. The Soviet dissident Andrei Amalrik compared a tyrannical state to a soldier who constantly points a gun at his enemy — until his arms finally tire and the prisoner escapes. The role of the free world is to put pressure on the arms of the world’s tyrants — and strengthen the prisoners who are trying to speed their collapse…
It is too bad that the State Department did not buy into it.
It’s all about the status quo at State.
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During the conference I had the opportunity to discuss the Bush Freedom Agenda with American Enterprise Institute Resident Fellow and former assistant secretary of defense for international security policy, Richard Perle who predicted this response by the State Department.
Here is that interview again:
Richard Perle nailed it- the State Department was not going to buy in to the Bush plan.
It’s too bad the State Department never bought into the “Freedom Agenda”. It will probably be a long time before the country has a another courageous visionary leader like President Bush. And, there are still too many tyrants in the world and too many oppressed people suffering under those tyrants.
In June, after the Prague Conference I wrote this at Pajamas Media:
If President Bush truly wants to give these dissidents a gift- a gift of democracy and freedom- he will hold his administration accountable. He will follow through to ensure that his demands are being carried out. He can start by checking back with his ambassadors in a few weeks to see how they are progressing. Let’s hope that he does. It may be a long time coming before such a visionary operates inside the White House.
It looks like some follow-up is still in order. It would be sad to see the president’s efforts slide on this most important issue. And, it may be a while before we see another president like Bush.
Regardless, let’s hope the next “dissident president” is not attacked mercilessly like the current one.