In too much of the earth there is want, discord, danger. New forces and new nations stir and strive across the earth, with power to bring, by their fate, great good or great evil to the free world's future. From the deserts of North Africa to the islands of the South Pacific one third of all mankind has entered upon an historic struggle for a new freedom; freedom from grinding poverty. Across all continents, nearly a billion people seek, sometimes almost in desperation, for the skills and knowledge and assistance by which they may satisfy from their own resources, the material wants common to all mankind.
Today the unspoken assumption of the governing class--that is, the people who run the Pentagon, the White House, and the State Department--is that the absence of freedom causes frustration, which causes instability, which causes terrorism--and war.
Whatever happened to the problem of poverty?
Was it forgotten once the Soviet state collapsed?
Or have we just replaced one easy nostrum with another?
I suspect the latter.
Perhaps we could channel LBJ and ask for his advice. He was confident that addressing the problems of poverty would cure America of racial divisions and injustice. But the Great Society programs largely flopped. They were badly designed, threw money at problems, and led mainly to disappointment and heartache. In short order America's inner cities went up in flames.
Doesn't Bush's simple approach mirror LBJ's? After LBJ's failures became manifest we were treated to the autopsy of the Great Society. I fully expect, sooner rather than later, to be reading the autopsy of neo-conservatism.