2007 01 Bugle Review -- THE GOOD FIGHT

Read for your Life!

by John Burgeson, www.burgy.50megs.com

"Literacy salvaged my life. It is as simple and fundamental as that." Sharon Hamilton.

THE GOOD FIGHT, by Peter Beinart.

The subtitle of this very partisan book is "Why Liberals -- and only Liberals -- Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again. The author is an editor of THE NEW REPUBLIC; he writes regularly for THE WASHINGTON POST and TIME.

Mr. Beinart's book challenges the Republican neo-conservatives who have dominated America's government since the disputed election of 2000. It is a clarion call to the Democratic Party, to the "voices of reason" within the Republican Party, and a plea to liberals of all political parties, to recall and restore the American spirit and ideals that once (but no longer, he says) inspire the people of other countries. Much of the book's philosophy is based on the great Christian writer, Reinhold Niebuhr. He speaks of understanding the moral limits of power, which was essential to the triumph of liberal anti-communism in the past century.

What are these ideals? There are four of them. First, that America must lead the world by example and persuasion, not by domination and command. Second, that we must seek liberty in all countries, but not by the force of American Empire. Third, that America must always and forever have an "unyielding hostility" to totalitarianism. And fourth, recognizing that America is itself not (yet) pure, we must work incessantly to not only preach "freedom and justice," but become more free and just ourselves.

Beinart's book is short (208 pages) and has copious notes. It reminds the reader that America's character must be based on principled deeds, not boastful, empty words. He argues that the Bush-Cheney policies of preventative war, which was planned by the current White House staff far before the 2000 election, has been illegitimate and a tactical blunder of enormous magnitude. George Will writes that "[Beinart] does not just reject the Bush administration's foreign policy, he refutes it." This book is a blueprint for the Democratic Party to take back the presidency and restore America's standing in the world.

Democrats should read the book. It will remind them of what their party's policies should be. It is a set of principles to rally around. Republicans should read this book. It will remind them of what they must do (embrace some of these principles) to win the 2008 elections.

John W. Burgeson, Mancos, Colorado, January 2, 2006. For the Bugle

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