Monday, June 23, 2003

TRB: Peter Beinart's Bulletin this week, on the struggles of Liberia and its neighbors against factionalists, is nicely written, until the end. Beinart is correct that we owe something to, at least, Liberia -- which was founded, with less success, explicitly on American principles, and was populated, in part, by the voluntary "repatriating" of former American slaves. In addition, Beinart is well positioned to make the argument, since his magazine was one of the few fearless boosters of the Iraq war on general (and correct) Wilsonian and humanitarian principles and not just WMD stories. (His magazine, I believe, is now stopping citizens in the street to mention this.) There are, too, selfish reasons for playing a larger role in Africa: it's the China of the 21st century. It would be a shame for the GOP to intervene in Africa only on behalf of the next century's potential consumers, but if that's what it takes ...

At the end of his piece, though, Beinart wanders off with this musing:

Second, if the Bush administration isn't prepared to save countries like Liberia, perhaps its supporters could at least stop lecturing Europe about our morally superior foreign policy.
I seem to recall the moral lecturing as proceeding in exactly the opposite direction. If it has become more obvious that Bush sold the war to America on exaggerated claims of a threat, it has also become more obvious that "old" Europe passed an opportunity to depose a tyrant for reasons that were deeply self-serving, all the while congratulating themselves for their sophistication and moral superiority.

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