President Bush’s strategy of bringing democracy to Iraq and the greater Middle East promised to bring security for America, but the so-called forward strategy for freedom has failed dismally. Was its failure due to a botched application of the policy? Was it a case of “idealism” run amok?

Neither, argue Dr. Yaron Brook and Elan Journo of the Ayn Rand Institute. In a forthcoming essay, “The ‘Forward Strategy’ for Failure,” they explain why no amount of tinkering with the policy’s implementation could have averted disaster. They argue–contrary to the implication of the Iraq Study Group’s report–that the democracy crusade is proof, not of the futility of idealistic foreign policy, but of an ideal that repudiates the basic goal of U.S. national security. Bush’s policy, the essay demonstrates, was doomed to failure because of the particular moral ideal driving it–the ideal of self-sacrifice.

That ideal, Brook and Journo argue, was manifest in the Bush administration’s commitment to putting the whims of tribalist Iraqi mobs above the rights of Americans to live in freedom and security. The same pernicious ideal shaped the battle plans Washington issued to our military–battle plans that prevented our troops from using all necessary force to win or, tragically, to defend themselves. Bush’s forward strategy is a pretense at pursuing U.S. national security, while in reality diligently renouncing that goal and strengthening Islamic totalitarians by ushering them into political office.

Outlining a path toward achieving U.S. national security, the essay indicates the nature of a rational foreign policy–and what a real “war on terrorism” should look like. America is capable of triumphing over Islamic totalitarianism–as the West triumphed over Nazism and Japanese imperialism sixty years ago–but to pursue such a strategy for victory requires the conviction that Americans have an unqualified right to exist and defend their freedom. That conviction is a result of holding the right moral values. The chief value Americans should embrace is the moral ideal of self-interest, a largely unknown ideal. It leads to a foreign policy that is both moral and practical. 

“The ‘Forward Strategy’ for Failure,” which will be published in the spring 2007 issue of The Objective Standard, is immediately available online at the journal’s Web site:

The essay draws on a lecture presented by Dr. Brook at the Ford Hall Forum in Boston on October 22, 2006; an audio recording of that event is available as an MP3 download or streaming audio from WGBH Boston:

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