This commentary on the day of the speech from the Editors of the Editorial Page at the Wall Street Journal: Now he's Bush of Arabia -- but no doubt Lawrence is in absollutely total despair:
By JAMES TARANTO
George W. Bush, Progressive Internationalist
In a speech marking the 20th anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy, President Bush this morning affirmed America's commitment to democracy in the Muslim world:
Some skeptics of democracy assert that the traditions of Islam are inhospitable to the representative government. This "cultural condescension," as Ronald Reagan termed it, has a long history. After the Japanese surrender in 1945, a so-called Japan expert asserted that democracy in that former empire would "never work." Another observer declared the prospects for democracy in post-Hitler Germany are, and I quote, "most uncertain at best"--he made that claim in 1957. Seventy-four years ago, the Sunday London Times declared nine-tenths of the population of India to be "illiterates not caring a fig for politics." Yet when Indian democracy was imperiled in the 1970s, the Indian people showed their commitment to liberty in a national referendum that saved their form of government.
Time after time, observers have questioned whether this country, or that people, or this group, [is] "ready" for democracy--as if freedom were a prize you win for meeting our own Western standards of progress. In fact, the daily work of democracy itself is the path of progress. It teaches cooperation, the free exchange of ideas, and the peaceful resolution of differences. As men and women are showing, from Bangladesh to Botswana, to Mongolia, it is the practice of democracy that makes a nation ready for democracy, and every nation can start on this path.
It should be clear to all that Islam--the faith of one-fifth of humanity--is consistent with democratic rule. Democratic progress is found in many predominantly Muslim countries--in Turkey and Indonesia, and Senegal and Albania, Niger and Sierra Leone. Muslim men and women are good citizens of India and South Africa, of the nations of Western Europe, and of the United States of America.
Bush cited a two-decade-old speech by a previous great progressive internationalist:
In June of 1982, President Ronald Reagan spoke at Westminster Palace and declared, the turning point had arrived in history. He argued that Soviet communism had failed, precisely because it did not respect its own people--their creativity, their genius and their rights. . . .
A number of critics were dismissive of that speech by the president. According to one editorial of the time, "It seems hard to be a sophisticated European and also an admirer of Ronald Reagan." Some observers on both sides of the Atlantic pronounced the speech simplistic and naive, and even dangerous. In fact, Ronald Reagan's words were courageous and optimistic and entirely correct.