Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Niall Ferguson: Bush Should Learn from Wilson - Don't Withdraw Too Soon

Niall Ferguson approves of President Bush's refusal to set a timetable for troop withdrawal and calls on the historical example of Woodrow Wilson for support
Woodrow Wilson was a man who lived to have his illusions shattered, though not long enough to see the complete collapse of his new world order into a Second World War. President Bush needs to learn from his example. And the first lesson he needs to learn is that just getting people to vote is no more than a beginning. Get the follow-through wrong and you can easily end up with 'one man, one vote--once.'

Lesson No. 2 concerns the duration of American military interventions. Wilson finally took America into World War I in 1917. Yet by 1919 the troops were on their way home from Europe, leaving the Europeans--in effect the French--to police the peace treaty. Premature U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in the wake of last week's elections would run the risk of leaving no one to police the peace.

That is why the president is more right than he knows to reject calls for an arbitrary departure date. The price of liberty in Iraq will be, if not eternal vigilance on the part of the United States, then certainly 10 years' vigilance.
Ferguson also called President Bush the first idealist-realist. "Part of him understands very well that the success of American policy in the Middle East depends on tenacity and the credibility that comes with it. But another part of him is excited to the point of unrealism by his own grand visions of a democratic revolution throughout the Middle East." I think by "unrealism" Ferguson refers to Bush not following the "realist" school of foreign policy with regards to the Middle East. Hence, President Bush is being "unreal" (not of the realist school) when he believes in "a democratic revolution throughout the Middle East." It must be this, because if said Revolution does occur, wouldn't it indeed be "real"?

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