Thus Spoke Bush & McCain: Say Amen, Somebody

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O my friends! Thus speaketh the discerning one: shame, shame, shame- that is the history of man!

There is something almost sweet in this age-old notion of rebirth and regeneration.

In these latest incarnations, we are served the tried and true “we have tried, and failed, but this failure has made us stronger and we will now set our sights on the future, confident in our determination to right past wrongs…” 

But it really is the same-old isn’t it. But the gung-ho is listless. The compass has become distorted by gamma rays or some other invisible, other-wordly obstructions.

Or perhaps it is just that the ‘call to arms’ is really little more than A Call to Arm. 

These speeches bring to mind Obama’s classic Speech on the Economy, delivered while peering out from the doorstep of what we now warmly refer to as the Global Economic Meltdown in 2009.

Here he opined that “I have no doubt that, years from now, we will look back on 2009 as one of those years that marked another new and hopeful beginning for the United States of America.”

Well, maybe not. Then, as now, the entire world was thrown into a real and true abyss in large part due to ‘events’ in America.  ‘Democracy’ and ‘The Beloved Free Market” had run amok.

And the solution? Then, as now, we were told to look ahead, not behind, to reflect not on current failures, but past accomplishments. 

“The international order we helped build from the ashes of world war, and that we defend to this day,” McCain said, “has liberated more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history.”  

“Since World War II,” Bush noted, “America has encouraged and benefited from the global advance of free markets, from the strength of democratic alliances, and from the advance of free societies.” 

The message is clear. We won that war, we can win this one, too.

No matter who is at the helm.

No matter how bad things look.

No matter how many wars are being fought.

No matter how many more wars may be started at any moment. 

No matter how much faster and smoother and more intelligently the rest of the world might be moving.

Might is right. Always has been. Always will be.

Say amen, somebody.

James Porteous


22 October 2017 | Richard Fontaine| Defense One

A Tale of Two Speeches

“In two widely noticed speeches this week, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and President George W. Bush called Americans to a global leadership worthy of the country’s best traditions. They offered a compelling critique of the cramped worldview that has turned our political leaders increasingly inward. And they identified the fulcrum around which the intellectual battle over America’s proper place in the world will take shape.

Given the enormous stakes, it’s worth pausing to reflect for a moment on the two addresses and what they represent at this moment of political life.

In normal times, it would be unexceptional to hear a sitting senator and a former president call for strong alliances, an open economic system, and the promotion of human rights. McCain and Bush’s emphasis on America’s role in upholding international order would fit the approach of any post-World War II president, Republican or Democratic. Today, their calls are front page news. Many of the very fundamentals of U.S. foreign policy are now contested.

What made these two speeches so extraordinary was just how unexceptional their message would have been at any other time in recent decades. Bush called for “the projection of American leadership,” and for “America’s role in sustaining and defending an international order rooted in freedom and free markets.” McCain observed that maintaining that global leadership “has had its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy” by doing so. “We would not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent,” McCain added. “We wouldn’t deserve to.”

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