Friday, September 03, 2004

If This is Conservatism ...

... then what does liberalism look like? I'm glad to see that I'm far from alone in my distaste for the nonsensical, spendthrift program being advanced by the GOP for a second Bush term. Andrew Sullivan has every right to be disillusioned, and I think he's hit upon the right description for what's on offer here - Bismarckian Wilsonianism, or kulturkampf + corporatism + liberal internationalism.

The Wilsonian part of the vision I can live with (though it's clear that very many libertarians cannot), but not the Bismarckian aspect of it, and in Bismarck's favor, it must be said that at least he recognized that budgets must conform to the laws of arithmetic. How can anybody with a respect for freedom sign up to an agenda that looks like something out of the dreams of General Franco?

If there's anything at all that leaves me the slightest bit hesitant about rooting all out for a Kerry victory, it is anxiety about his willingess to anger his base by using force if need be, especially with regards to Iran. Contrary to what some on the right would like to make out, Kerry's plan to call Iran's bluff by offering it the fuel it claims to need is actually strategically quite sound, and certainly more substantive than anything Bush has managed to put forward as to what to do about that country. What worries me is what happens after the Iranian bluff is called, as it surely will be - does Kerry really intend to allow the UN Security Council to hold him hostage at that point, or will he find the gumption to strike while there's still a chance to wreck serious damage to the Iranian nuclear programme?