Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Victory of the Tempest-Tost

In many ways, contrary to the charge that we fight in Iraq for oil or Halliburton, our fight in Iraq is highly idealistic. Rather than settling for putting "our sonofabitch" in charge of Iraq, we are attempting to give the Iraqis the chance to live in a free country where ballots decide who sits in the government's offices.

Our Left, which you'd think would be sympathetic about this goal if not the methods, is strangely committed to the idea that Arabs aren't ready for democracy.

I've asserted that one day our president will be known as George the Liberator for his role in starting this process, no matter how long it takes to take root and spread:

Our victory in Iraq will change the rules in a region still frozen in the Cold War era standards of strongmen who rule without regard to their people or their well being. When the history of the Middle East in this era is written, President Bush may well be known as George the Liberator.

This article states similarly:

It may take a little time, but a democratic Iraqi people will someday get a government that reflects their new, hard-earned values. While it has been an often bumpy road, the Iraqi experiment now looks like it has a real chance of success. Hopefully George W. Bush, before his time in office expires, will be able to travel to Baghdad and deliver a speech that publicly recognizes the Iraqi people's will to join the family of civilized nations. Yes, American blood and treasure have given Iraq its freedom, but Iraqis have had to bleed to keep it.

When George W. Bush addresses a free Iraq, a heterogeneous Islamic nation that America freed and whose people of their own volition opted for a peaceful and tolerant democracy, it will represent one of America's greatest accomplishments. Iraq will truly serve as a beacon to other nations of the region. It's very presence will strike perhaps the lethal blow in the war of ideas we are fighting with fanatics across the region.

Not acknowledging the progress the Iraqi people have made is unconscionable. Abandoning them would be unforgivable.

I don't know how so-called progressives can write off Arabs as unready for democracy. Once, Asians were said to be too steeped in Asian despotism traditions. Once Latin America was viewed as too hobbled by Catholic centralism to have democracy. And once Eastern Europeans were said to be too crippled by Soviet domination and a lack of a democratic tradition even before that communist trauma. Indeed, the raw material we built our democracy on was hardly what you'd think of as fertile. We took in the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses whose only strength was their desire to breathe free and build a better life for their children.

Yes, ultimately it will be up to Arabs themselves to build free societies. We can't do it for them. But in the face of ruthless jihadi killers who will bomb and behead any who oppose the Islamo-fascist dream of a caliphate of the submissive, the protection of the homeless tempest-tost by our armed forces and our allies while they build the strength to fight the terrorists and despots is critical to success.

UPDATE: President Bush spoke on Thursday on exactly this topic:

And now we're at the start of a new century, and the same debate is once again unfolding -- this time regarding my policy in the Middle East. Once again, voices in Washington are arguing that the watchword of the policy should be "stability." And once again they're wrong. In Kabul, in Baghdad, in Beirut, and other cities across the broader Middle East, brave men and women are risking their lives every day for the same freedoms we enjoy. And like the citizens of Prague and Warsaw and Budapest in the century gone by, they are looking to the United States to stand up for them, speak out for them, and champion their cause. And we are doing just that. (Applause.)

We are standing with those who yearn for the liberty -- who yearn for liberty in the Middle East, because we understand that the desire for freedom is universal, written by the Almighty into the hearts of every man, woman and child on this Earth. (Applause.)

We are standing with those who yearn for liberty in the Middle East, because we know that the terrorists fear freedom even more than they fear our firepower. They know that given a choice, no one will choose to live under their dark ideology of violence and death.

We're standing with those who yearn for liberty in the Middle East, because we know that when free societies take root in that part of the world, they will yield the peace we all desire. See, the only way the terrorists can recruit operatives and suicide bombers is by feeding on the hopelessness of societies mired in despair. And by bringing freedom to these societies, we replace hatred with hope, and this will help us to marginalize the extremists and eliminate the conditions that feed radicalism, and make the American people more secure.

The lessons of the past have taught us that liberty is transformative. And I believe 50 years from now an American President will be speaking to Heritage and say, thank God that generation that wrote the first chapter in the 21st century understood the power of freedom to bring the peace we want. (Applause.)

This was just a coincidence of timing. And lest I lose my Rove email instructions privilege, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.