Liberty for All?

In his second inaugural speech, President Bush boldly proclaimed the importance of spreading freedom throughout the world. “The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world,” he said. President Bush is no doubt sincere in this effort, and his compassion is admirable. However, these beliefs have the potential to become hubristic and dangerous. Throughout history, freedom has proven that it is natural. So the question is, will it come naturally? If we had not invaded Iraq, would democracy have come to Iraqis anyway? Like a parent’s wise advice to a delinquent child, American democracy may just not have a place in the hearts and minds of many Iraqis who were happier with the stability of their former government than the chaos of the new one. Before the invasion of Iraq, were few thought that Iraqi elections could be successful. But the Iraqis can be proud of the fact that they produced a higher voter turnout in their first election than their “liberators” did in the November 2004 elections, under far more precarious conditions. It would be naïve to think the newly elected Iraqi government will be entirely stable from the get-go, but it is a credit to the Iraqis and to Bush’s steadfastness that elections were conducted so successfully. So perhaps freedom can indeed be installed, a bad regime taken out and a democratic society created. However, to truly understand our actions, we must consider them on a higher level. In every human conflict, there is the desire of one to impose his beliefs on another. Americans believe in freedom, and democracy, the corner stones of our culture. But is it right to impose these institutions on other nations? In my heart I believe that all men should live free, but does that make me right? Hitler believed he was purifying Europe. Somehow, he deeply believed that he was right. But Hitler was a madman, whose pride and hateful beliefs poisoned Germany and the world. I am not saying we should derail democracy, but rather to ring our struggle now into a more worldly perspective. Put in this light, President Bush’s War on Terrorism could be viewed as just another culture war, a war of conflicting ideas and beliefs, Arab nations against Western nations, in an attempt to grab power and influence. Throughout history, people have tried to unite humanity in common beliefs by means of military conquest. All have failed. I leave it to you to decide whether or not our struggle is just another attempt to unite us (and eventually divide us) or truly the divine mission which President Bush believes it to be.