Right Question

Asking the right question is usually more productive than trying to prove the right answer.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

The Conservative Idealists II

It may be about time to retire the overused, underdefined term "neo-conservative" and replace it with the more descriptive term "conservative idealist".

No doubt this is the George W. Bush our grandchildren will study in school. But when they study the transformation he underwent after our national tragedy a name that will surely come up will be that of the quintessential neo-con, Paul Wolfowitz. Two and a half years ago, Bill Keller wrote America's introduction to Paul Wolfowitz in the N.Y. Times magazine section. The article makes fascinating reading with the advantage of hindsight. Keller writes:
The third striking thing about Wolfowitz is an optimism about America's ability to build a better world. He has an almost missionary sense of America's role. In the current case, that means a vision of an Iraq not merely purged of cataclysmic weaponry, not merely a threat disarmed, but an Iraq that becomes a democratic cornerstone of an altogether new Middle East. Given the fatalism that prevails about this most flammable region of the world, that is an audacious optimism indeed.
Way back in September of 2002, six months before the Iraq War began in earnest, Paul Wolfowitz said:
I don't think it's unreasonable to think that Iraq, properly managed -- and it's going to take a lot of attention, and the stakes are enormous, much higher than Afghanistan -- that it really could turn out to be, I hesitate to say it, the first Arab democracy, or at least the first one except for Lebanon's brief history.
With delicious understatement, Keller notes, "This is a notion regarded with deep skepticism at the State Department."

One more last quote from Keller's article which seems apropos to Wolfowitz's potential new role at the World Bank:
"What I think distinguishes him, and it's very alarming to some people, is that there is this spirit in Washington that foreign policy consists of managing problems," said Charles H. Fairbanks, a Johns Hopkins political scientist who has known Wolfowitz since college. "Paul Wolfowitz is really free of that tendency."
I can't think of a better endorsement for the job.


Post a Comment

<< Home