Churchillian it was not. Yet the State of the Union seemed a success if Bush’s purpose was to buy time from Congress to wait and see if his surge of U.S. forces into Iraq might yet succeed.
But when Bush started to describe the ideological war we are in, one began to understand why we are in the mess we are in.
"This war," said Bush, "is an ideological struggle. … To prevail, we must remove the conditions that inspire blind hatred and drove 19 men to get onto airplanes and to come to kill us."
But the "conditions" that drove those 19 men "to come to kill us" is our dominance of their world, our authoritarian allies and Israel.
They were over here because we are over there.
If Bush is going to remove those "conditions," he is going to have to get us out of the Middle East. Is he prepared to do that? Of course not. Because Bush, believing the problem is not our pervasive presence but the lack of freedom in the Middle East, is waging his own ideological war to bring freedom in by force of arms, if necessary.
"What every terrorist fears most is human freedom — societies where men and women make their own choices."
Very American. But the truth is terrorists do not fear free societies, they flourish in them. The suicide bombers of 9-11, Madrid and London all plotted their atrocities in free societies. From the Red Brigades, who murdered Italy’s Aldo Mori, to the Baader-Meinhoff Gang, who tried to kill Al Haig, to the Basque ETA, the IRA and the Puerto Rican terrorists who tried to assassinate Harry Truman, free societies are where they do their most effective work.
Stalin’s Russia and Nazi Germany had no trouble with terrorists.
"Free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies," declared Bush. Oh? Explain, then, why 70 million Germans, under the most democratic government in their history, gave more than half their votes to Nazis and Communists in 1933? In every plebiscite he held, Hitler won a landslide. In the year of Anschluss and Munich, 1938, Hitler was Time’s Man of the Year and far more popular than FDR, who lost 71 seats in the House.
During 2006, free Latin peoples brought to power anti-American Leftists Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua and Rafael Correa in Ecuador, and came close to electing their comrades Ollanta Humala in Peru and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in Mexico.
In the free elections Bush demanded in Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq, the winners were the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Hamas and Shia militants with ties to Iran.
If a referendum were held in the Middle East on the proposition of the U.S. military out and Israel gone, how does Bush think it would come out?
"So we advance our security interests by helping moderates, reformers and brave voices for democracy," said Bush. But how many of those "moderates" — Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Kuwait, the Gulf States — are ruled "by brave voices for democracy"?
Our Islamist enemies would likely endorse unanimously a Bush call for free elections in all those countries, as elections could not but help advance to greater power, at the expense of our friends, those same Islamist enemies.
What is Bush doing? The America that won the Cold War said ideology be damned, we stand by our friends.
"The great question of our day is whether America will help men and women in the Middle East to build free societies," said Bush.
But if we bleed our country to give the men and women of the Middle East the freedom to choose the society they wish to live in, are we sure they will not choose a society where Sharia is law? In liberated Afghanistan, popular sentiment was behind beheading that Muslim who converted to Christianity.
What leads Bush to believe everyone wants to be like us? Is it not ideology?
To characterize "the totalitarian ideology" we confront, Bush quoted Osama bin Laden: "Death is better than living on this Earth with the unbelievers among us."
This is the true mark of the true believer. But did not the Spain of Isabella want the "unbelievers" removed from "among us"? Did not Elizabeth I feel the same about Catholics?
"Give me liberty or give me death!" said Patrick Henry of the Brits remaining in this country that Brits had founded. "Live free or die!" is the motto of the great state of New Hampshire.
This is the heart of the war we are in. Americans believe in freedom first. Millions of Muslims believe in Islam first — submission to Allah. We decide for us. Do we also decide for them?
Perhaps the best advice we can give our Muslim friends in the Middle East is the hard advice Lord Byron gave the Greeks under the Islamic rule of Ottoman Turks:
Hereditary bondsmen! know ye not,
Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow?