And we are working to advance liberty in the broader Middle East, because freedom will bring a future of hope and the peace we all want. And we will prevail. Our strategy is succeeding. Four years ago, Afghanistan was the home base of Al Qaida. Pakistan was a transit point for terrorist groups. Saudi Arabia was fertile ground for terrorist fund-raising. Libya was secretly pursuing nuclear weapons, Iraq was a gathering threat. And Al Qaida was largely unchallenged as it planned attacks.~ George W. Bush

There was something noteworthy about Mr. Bush’s fairly drab acceptance speech last night: the complete silence about what his administration would aim to do in a second term in foreign policy and the “War on Terror”. So much for running as the war president.

Aside from rather weakly justifying his decision to invade Iraq, and uttering the word freedom as if it were a magic spell (I counted the words freedom or liberty 20 times in the last half of the speech), he provided no serious comment, much less any meaningful detail, on what he would do regarding Iraq, international alliances, Iran or anything else. Oh, yes, except to spread freedom.

After boring us numb with a list of new entitlements and government programs (while claiming to represent fiscal responsibility and less government!), Mr. Bush could have at least said something about foreign policy that he had not said just as vaguely a hundred times before. He also deliberately misinformed the public about the state of affairs in Pakistan, which continues to support terrorism against India, and elements of its government and security services remain in league with al-Qaeda and the Taliban just as they were when the American government was on their side in the late ’90s.

Republicans have made great fun of Kerry and his supporters by saying, “Hope is not a strategy.” In my book, saccharine invocations of freedom and democracy and a promise to “spread” them (as if they were some sort of infection) do not make a strategy, either. It is little better than vain optimism and blind hope in the false premise that more freedom in the world leads to peace. With every new group of independent nations, there has been not more peace in the world, but less. With every “expansion of liberty,” which Mr. Bush erroneously claims as the substance of the “story of America,” the world becomes less stable and those peoples still deprived of what they regard as their liberty (or at least their “rights”) become all the more radical and violent.

Promising to provide more freedom, and therefore some measure of power, to more and more people is bound to boomerang around and hurt American interests, when the interests of so many of the people in the Near East are contrary to our own. The Democrats might say, if they had any sense (and they do not), “Ideology is not a strategy. False assumptions are not a strategy. Lies are a not a strategy.” But Mr. Bush will apparently be allowed to continue to get away with dishonest or fatuous statements as if they were great pronouncements of principle, as if they were genuinely thoughtful.