Monday, December 15, 2003

Presidents Remade by War, by Thomas L. Friedman

New York Times

Friedman says that Bush, like Lincoln, found a higher moral purpose for war as it progressed. Lincoln's was the abolition of slavery. Bush's is international liberalism.

I'm not sure if Friedman's right on this. In 1862 Lincoln said:

"My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that."

I don't think Lincoln's opinion changed much. I'm similarly suspicious that Bush's policy is driven by his moral purpose. I think it's a nice side-effect, but security is still the primary thrust of the war on terror. Otherwise, other Arab dictatorships should be next on the hit list, and I don't think countries like Saudi Arabia are worried that much. They don't threaten us, we don't attack them, even if under the surface many in the country hate us, and government isn't a model for for democracy.

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