Politics & Policy

The Reagan-Bush Doctrine

Why W. must be reelected.

President Bush is set to give a speech today in which he finally drops the “new tone” nonsense, takes the gloves off, and attacks the Democrats for, among other things, being soft on the war on terrorism. This is long overdue. For many months now, Democrats have managed to turn tremendous foreign-policy and military victories into American defeats. For the most part, Republicans, conservatives, and even George W. Bush’s campaign operatives have allowed it, watching while Democrats completely transform these issues into political negatives for the president.

President Bush has done more in three short years to liberate and defend Muslims the world over than any former president, any foreign leader, or any Muslim leader. He set in motion events that freed 50 million Afghans and Iraqis. In so doing, he badly damaged the terrorist networks that had been funded, encouraged, and embraced by the oppressive Taliban and Saddam Hussein regimes. We can react forever to Democratic demands for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction–weapons Democrats themselves have argued existed for more than a decade. But their main concern is hardly WMDs; their purpose now is to downplay or dismiss the remarkable accomplishments of the Bush presidency in a part of the world where America has suffered repeated setbacks under both Democratic and Republican presidents.

Other dictators have witnessed U.S. military action and resolve, and several have responded in ways that no one could have previously imagined. Libya has now surrendered its nuclear-weapons program, which had been hidden successfully from United Nations inspectors. Syria is desperately seeking ways to make nice with the United States. In short, the Mideast is being transformed before our eyes, if we’re willing to look. And this is an enormous humanitarian and national-security achievement.

Call it preemption. Call it self-defense. Call it liberation. In truth, President Bush is advancing the Reagan Doctrine, or what should now be called the Reagan-Bush Doctrine. Ronald Reagan rejected the Iron Curtain, he rejected Communism, and he rejected the status quo. He came to office when the Soviet Union was extending its tentacles over several continents, including South America. He believed that, for humanitarian and national-security reasons, the Soviets had to be defeated, not tolerated. And against all conventional wisdom, and severe criticism from many of the same Democrats who now disparage George Bush, Reagan did just that. Hundreds of millions were freed, and the Russians are no longer the threat they once were. Who would have thought it? Certainly not the Democrats.

And we should recall that then, like now, where the Democrats seek investigations to undermine President Bush’s credibility and policies, the same tactics were employed against Reagan. Indeed, some of the same politicians who were involved in these efforts, including Sen. Carl Levin, are leading the charge today. At bottom, the so-called Iran-Contra matter was an effort to criminalize foreign-policy disagreements. Some of Reagan’s opponents even hoped it would lead to his impeachment. The media back then was more than happy to carry water for Reagan’s detractors, as they carry water for Bush’s detractors now.

President Bush is grappling with the serious threats posed by North Korea and Iran, and their nuclear programs. But unlike his Democratic predecessor, he’s looking for ways to defeat their efforts, not tolerate them. For this, too, he is denounced harshly by his critics. But if anyone can at least begin the process of unraveling these regimes, it’s this president.

John Kerry and the other Democratic leaders are on the wrong side of history, as they were during the Reagan presidency. If they had won the day, and Reagan had failed, the Soviet Union would still exist, as would all the harm and suffering it unleashed, and American security would be far weaker as a result. And if they win this election thanks to a promise to undo the Reagan-Bush Doctrine, those cheering loudest will be the most evil-loving among us.

Mark Levin is host of a nightly radio show on WABC 770.

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

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