Tags: Bush's | Foreign | Policy | Larry | Summers | Chris | Rock

Bush's Foreign Policy, Larry Summers, Chris Rock

Wednesday, 02 March 2005 12:00 AM

In discussing the building of democracy in Iraq, Friedman said that "if you have a Democratic Party that is indifferent to it ... that party is not going to be important, in American foreign policy terms." He is absolutely right. Yet most Democrats I talk to, and I talk to lots of them, are preoccupied with denigrating President Bush.

For example, lately these Democrats have been quick to label the President's recent meetings in Europe with Chirac of France, Schroeder of Germany, Putin of Russia and others as a failure. They did the same with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's trip, which preceded the president's. In both cases, they are dead wrong.

Bush's trip and that of Condoleezza Rice, along with their foreign policy, have been enormous successes. Bush spoke candidly to President Putin of Russia, chiding the apparent backsliding of that country with respect to its acceptance of democratic rule, which requires free elections, a free press and an economy free from government repression.

Bush's candor and courage are being appreciated by more and more commentators. Wherever Bush went he was courted, as was Rice, particularly by Chirac and Schroeder. Both of those European leaders did everything they could to convey to both the president and secretary of state their desire to put the past disagreements on Iraq behind them.

Neither Rice nor Bush, while exhibiting good manners, gave an inch on their beliefs that America's foreign policy on Iraq, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Israel and the Palestinian Authority was right and remains U.S. policy.

Friedman, who has not always been supportive of President Bush's war to liberate Iraq, now sees it differently, saying: "We are where we are, and where we are is really important because the war on terrorism ... is a war of ideas. And the only way you win the war of ideas is the people over there – it takes a village – when the people there say, ‘This is shameful what you are doing, this fascism, this jihadism, this suicidism' – and the Iraqi election was the first step toward that, and that's a big deal."

Commentators who have made a hobby of lambasting President Bush are now beginning to praise the free elections in Iraq and the other positive changes taking place throughout the Middle East, including the election scheduled in Lebanon and the prospect of freer and more inclusive elections in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

To the surprise of many, President Bush has been brilliant in foreign affairs. I have said and continue to maintain that I do not agree with him on a single domestic issue, but believe all of those differences are trumped by his willingness to take on international terrorism. I have no regrets in having supported his re-election.

The second insightful quote on "Meet the Press" came from former New York Times columnist Bill Safire. In discussing the ongoing struggle to end the career of Larry Summers as president of Harvard, Safire said that Summers "exhibited academic freedom in saying something politically incorrect and the roof fell in on him."

The New York Times in its Week in Review section listed Summers' politically incorrect measures:

"What's made Mr. Summers so controversial, said Nicholas Lemann, a Harvard graduate and now the dean of Columbia University's journalism school, is that he's conservative ‘not in his politics, but in the context of the university.' ‘Just about everything he's done that's gotten attention is about a tug to the center,' Mr. Lemann said.

"That is to say, he would like to see R.O.T.C., which was banished from Harvard during the sit-ins of the '60s, restored to campus; he would like to overhaul the core curriculum; he would like to hire who he pleases, regardless of race or sex.

"By being naturally and deliberately provocative, he has challenged campus liberals, which is not what campus liberals are accustomed to. Neil Rudenstine, the previous president, was a former English major devoted to inclusivity. Derek Bok, who preceded Mr. Rudenstine, was an affirmative action proponent, even writing a book after he left office on the merits of race-based preferences.

"In contrast, Mr. Summers has had a series of widely reported confrontations: He rebuked Cornel West, a distinguished professor in the African-American studies department, who promptly decamped to Princeton; he made the suggestion, provoked by a pro-Palestinian faction demanding that Harvard divest itself of stock in companies allied with Israel, that campus anti-Semitism was on the rise; he deplored rampant grade inflation."

I applaud every action Summers took. My fear is that having been burned by experience he will now become too cautious. However, I also believe, as was said by Heraclitis, that "character is fate." With the passage of time, Summers will once again take on the politically correct who, despite their good intentions, are often the enemies of freedom in academia and elsewhere.

My suggestion is that the trustees of Stanford, Princeton and M.I.T., whose presidents denounced Summers for, in effect, taking on the suppressers of inquiry and research, now examine whether or not those three individuals have the integrity and character to hold their positions. The alumni of those three universities should reflect on whether their financial contributions to the endowments of those schools make sense so long as those presidents continue in office.

The First Amendment protecting speech is our singular treasure. When a speaker becomes vulgar, intemperate and panders to the worst in us, those present have an obligation to stand up and make their disagreement known. That is how I felt when Chris Rock in his Academy Awards monologue went into an extended rant and, in effect, described President George W. Bush as a moron because of the U.S. war against Iraq. His foolish and not very funny parody included the offending comment: "People are dying. A thousand Gap employees are dead. That's right. Bleeding all over the khakis."

I was in my living room. However, some of the hundreds if not thousands present in the hall could have stood up and protested, but not one person did so. Instead, the Hollywood crowd cheered and applauded their assent to the remarks. How sad when they all, just a few minutes later, also applauded Rock for professing his support for our troops in Iraq, support which sounded awfully shallow after his tasteless crack mocking the dead. Was no one listening? Did no one care?


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In discussing the building of democracy in Iraq, Friedman said that "if you have a Democratic Party that is indifferent to it ... that party is not going to be important, in American foreign policy terms."He is absolutely right.Yet most Democrats I talk to, and I talk to...
Wednesday, 02 March 2005 12:00 AM
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