I haven't felt much like writing anything in the last couple of days, but this op-ed by Andrew Bacevich in the Los Angeles Times is too outstanding to let pass without note:
Viewed from a historian's perspective, the Bush administration since 9/11 has ransacked the past to conjure up comforting expectations for the future. President Bush excels in this exercise, expressing confidence that the "untamed fire of freedom" will one day soon "reach the darkest corners of our world." Yet as the assassination of Benazir Bhutto reminds us yet again, events refuse to play along. History remains stubbornly recalcitrant.
Bush would have us believe otherwise. History, he insists, "has a visible direction, set by liberty and the Author of Liberty." That direction, the president believes, tends toward peace, democracy and freedom for all humankind. America's purpose, assigned by the Author of Liberty, is to nudge history toward its intended destination. More immediately, America's ostensible aim since 9/11 has been to make the blessings of liberty available to the Islamic world. As democracy spreads there, the threat posed by terrorism will diminish. Such at least has been the assumption underlying Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, the two wars begun on Bush's watch.
This strategy of militarized liberation has been fraught with contradictions, not the least of which has been the partnership forged between the United States and Pakistan. Bush has repeatedly declared Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf a valued and trusted ally. Since 9/11, the U.S. has provided Pakistan with at least $10 billion in aid, most of it going to the army. In hopes of ensuring Pakistani cooperation in the global war on terrorism, Washington has ignored that nation's record as perhaps the world's most egregious nuclear weapons proliferator.
At the beginning of his second term, Bush spoke confidently of the United States sponsoring a global democratic revolution "with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." Ever since that hopeful moment, developments across the greater Middle East -- above all, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and on the West Bank -- have exposed the very real limits of U.S. wisdom and power.
Now the virtual impotence of the U.S. in the face of the crisis enveloping Pakistan -- along with its complicity in creating that crisis -- ought to discredit once and for all any notions of America fixing the world's ills.
Bush dreamed of managing history. It turns out that he cannot even manage Pakistan. Thus does the Author of Liberty mock the pretensions of those who presume to understand his intentions and to interpret his will.