February 13, 2005

Sharansky versus Buchanan.

Yesterday, I blogged about Roger Cohen's piece in the NYT about the influence Natan Sharansky's book "The Case for Democracy" has had on the Bush Administration. Today, Sharansky appeared along with Pat Buchanan on "Meet the Press." Here's the transcript. It was a really lively debate. Sharansky defended the practicality of his democracy ideals:
[T]he security of the United States of America, people in the United States of America, depends on the level of freedom of people in the other countries because democracies are peaceful, because the leaders of democratic countries depend on the will of their people. And dictatorships are always belligerent because in order dictators will control their own people, they need external enemy.

Pat Buchanan said exactly the sort of thing we are used to hearing from the anti-war left (except that Buchanan was unusually articulate in making his points):
There have been despotisms from time in memorial. There are 22 Arab states, not one of which is democratic, and the United States has not been threatened by any of them since the Barbary pirates.

In my judgment, what happened on 9/11 was a result of interventionism. Interventionism is the cause of terror. It is not a cure for terror. The idea that the president of the United States, as he said in his inaugural, is going to help democratic institutions in every region in every nation on earth is a formula for permanent war, Tim. ...

The president of the United States was profoundly mistaken [when he said that on September 11th, "Freedom came under attack"]. He has misdiagnosed the malady. He has misdiagnosed the reason for the attack, Tim. The United States was not attacked because we are free. Bin Laden was not attacking the Bill of Rights. We were attacked ... over here because the United States' military and political presence is massive over there. Bin Laden in his fatwah, his statement of declaration of war on the United States, said the infidels were standing on the sacred soil of Saudi Arabia. They want us out of the Middle East. They don't care whether we have a separation of church and state.

These are starkly opposed positions. What mental leaps are required to decide to believe one or the other? Is it perhaps possible to hold in one's mind the possibility that either might be true or that both might be part true and to make careful case-by-case decisions as we go along?

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