President Bush made a really good speech in Prague yesterday. Unfortunately, his credibility is so shot that hardly anybody paid attention. The only bits that were widely picked up were his remarks on Russia, in which he expressed a completely justified concern at the "troubling implications for democratic development" of the Putin government’s recent actions.
But the whole speech deserves to be read. It is a well argued and principled defence of Bush’s "freedom agenda" – his belief that the US should stand up for human rights and democracy around the world. Unfortunately, America’s disastrous effort to export democracy by force of arms to Iraq – added to the abuse of civil liberties at Guantanamo and elsewhere – has discredited the whole Bush doctrine. But a less militarised version of the "freedom agenda" is worth defending, even if Bush is now the wrong messenger.