Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Ideals can Become Reality

Oxblog's David Adesnik, using Reagan's Second Inaugural Address as evidence, shows that idealism can become reality where there is political will.
For the past four years, I have studied the relationship between idealistic rhetoric and the less-than-idealistic nature of American foreign policy. The most important lesson buried in the historical record is that idealistic rhetoric tends to generate a momentum of its own that gradually brings American behavior into line with American ideals.

The best illustration of this trend is the rapid evolution of America’s relationship with anti-Communist dictatorships during Ronald Reagan’s second term in office. In the State of the Union address that followed shortly after his second inaugural, Reagan declared that “We must stand by all our democratic allies. And we must not break faith with those who are risking their lives – on every continent, from Afghanistan to Nicaragua – to defy Soviet-supported aggression and secure rights which have been ours from birth.”

With amazing precision, responses to the “Reagan Doctrine” prefigured the exact criticism that has confroned George W. Bush’s second inaugural. In 1985, journalists found themselves compelled to point out that the United States had drawn closer to the Filipino, South Korean and Chilean dictatorships as a result of the Cold War. The President’s critics dismissed his inaugural address as a pleasant fiction designed to mask the hard core of an American foreign policy exemplified by the massacres in El Salvador and Nicaragua. Sadly, their analysis ended there.
Thankfully, Adesnik's doesn't. (Via Instapundit, who notes that the NY Times turned down this piece as being too dated...heh.)

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