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Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds: Is the World's Freedom the Responsibility of the United States?

Friday, January 21, 2005

Is the World's Freedom the Responsibility of the United States?

In his second inaugural address, President Bush stated: “The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.” On this point, I couldn’t agree more. But is it the responsibility of the USA to spread freedom around the globe?

There are places in the world that are a threat to our freedoms, and those regimes should be dealt with; not because we want to free people in foreign lands, but to preserve our freedoms at home. I support both the war in Afghanistan and Iraq because both are in our strategic best interest in defeating terrorism. The President was correct in advocating that freedom is the best way to ultimately achieve peace; countries which are self-governed don’t tend to attack each other. Everything he said about the virtues of free societies is true. My concern is how does he intend to make this happen? Tyrants don’t tend to let go of their power willingly.

The President went on to make promises to those who currently are oppressed: “All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.”

Does this signal a change in U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Iran, China, The Sudan and other places where there is tyranny? Does this necessarily mean the U.S. will use military force in some of these places or does it simply mean we will continue to offer our moral support (lip service) for these people?

These countries are only a few which deny freedom to their citizens; he couldn’t possibly mean we should liberate them all. Saudi Arabia and China are both out of the question for economic reasons. The energy policy of this country depends too much on foreign oil; Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest sources of oil (and terrorism). If the U.S. stopped trading with China because of its human rights violations, the U.S. economy would collapse and the rest of the world’s economy would soon follow.

What about Iran and North Korea? A strong case could be made that both of these governments should fall but any suggestion of going to war in either of these places would be an extremely hard sell, even to those of us who supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a practical matter, Iraq should be taken care of first. If Iraq and Afghanistan are successful in setting up self rule, in theory Iran’s people will fight for their own freedom because they will want to experience freedom themselves. Whether this happens or not will be very instructive to this administration and future administrations. North Korea, perhaps the most dangerous of the remaining axis of evil, will also be a huge challenge. Much of the criticism by some was that North Korea was a bigger threat than Iraq. If the biggest rationale for going to war with Iraq was WMD, these critics may have had a point. Saddam did however use WMD in the past on the Kurds, what would have stopped him from using WMD on us if he was able to acquire some?

What about the Sudan and countless other tyrannical regimes? Is President Bush planning on following the neocon philosophy of liberating the entire planet with the U.S. military? If people yearn for freedom, at some point they have to fight for it themselves. As much as I would like to believe as the president does, tyranny will not be wiped out anytime soon. The fight against oppression is as old as civilization itself. The best way to advance freedom is to be an example to the world. Though the United States is a free country, there is plenty of room for improvement. The quest for liberty starts at home.


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