Jonathan Freedland in Washington
Wednesday September 6, 2006
"That was the new doctrine: unilateralism, pre-emption and coercive democratisation. And what has been the fate of this new faith? Judged from any and every point of view, it has proved the most spectacular failure.
Genuinely spreading democracy is a noble goal, but Bush could not face the logic of his own position. Not only would it have meant allowing people to vote for parties the US does not like, it would also have seen them rid themselves of regimes the US has long backed. Rhetorically Bush swore he was ready for that, but his continued support for the dictatorships in Pakistan and Egypt, and his closeness to the House of Saud, show it was just talk. Moreover, if the peoples of the Muslim and Arab world were really allowed their say, one of their prime demands would be an end to US and western meddling in their affairs. But that would be a democratisation too far for Washington.
Accordingly, the Bushies are trying to soften their approach, resorting to diplomacy and alliances in dealing with Iran, for example. But that's chiefly because Iraq has deprived them of military options. "There's a change of course, but not a change of heart," one senate Democrat told me.
Either way, it's too late for Tony Blair. He signed up for the Bush project, even though it was doomed. His aides speak of legacy, but this is his legacy - to have glued himself to a reckless venture which has wreaked havoc the world over. Destroying the Blair premiership is the very least of it."