“Every citizen made a choice today, either to participate in the elections or not to participate. That decision, in itself, is a demonstration of freedom and democracy.”
–First Lieutenant Nathan J. Braden with the 1st Marine Division
“…when Iraqis were asked — hours before polls opened — if they were going to vote, “they looked at you like you had three heads. ‘Of course we’re going to vote,’ they responded, ‘It’s our duty.’”
–Captain Carrie Batson, with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) near Najaf
Quotes from a National Review Online column by W. Thomas Smith, Jr.
This historic event in Iraq cannot be summed up in simple words. As far back as many of us Americans can remember, the right (and some say duty– I agree), to vote and to elect our representative government has always existed. We cannot recall a time where we weren’t able to do so (our first presidential election was in 1789!). Today, if someone were to tell us that we could no longer vote for our government, and were being forced to live under a tyrant’s rulership, would we really believe them?
Of course not.
Once a democratic, representative government comes into being, and people enjoy the freedom of choosing their leadership, they will never allow that to be taken away. We would fight to the last to keep our freedoms, and it is no wonder to me that the Iraqi voter turnout was so high, even in spite of all of the threats of violence to the Iraqi people.
In his 2005 Inaugural Address, President George W. Bush showed that we Americans understand the inherent value of freedom, and what it can do for humankind:
There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.
The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.
So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.
Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities.
The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it.
The Iraqi people have shown the world that ready or not, they are willing to risk their lives for freedom. Like the first quote of this musing says, even choosing not to vote is a democratic choice. People who live under a dictatorship are frequently told for whom to vote, and when, and if they don’t vote (even though the outcome is predetermined) grave consequences would follow their inaction. This is tantamount to a POW being forced to sign a confession of false actions of aggression against his captors, just to stay alive one more day. I’m not intending to belittle the experience that POWs have had by way of comparison, but I think you get my point.
Occupational forces were in Japan and Germany for years after WWII, and during that time often came under attack. These attacks against coalition forces in Iraq are not insurgency attacks; rather they are terrorist attacks, because their purpose is only to terrorize, deflate, discourage and undermine the population’s will to embrace freedom.
The definition of insurgent is: one who acts contrary to the policies and decisions of one’s own political party, and clearly, the barely organized resistance against coalition forces is not from a bunch of people who are acting contrary to policies and so on. On the other hand, terrorism is defined as: the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion. It should be crystal-clear what is going on in Iraq, insofar as the attacks on freedom and democracy are concerned. These are terrorist acts, not defiant acts of insurgency, and the sooner that the world realizes this (and ceases their biased animosity toward the U.S. and allies in Iraq), the healthier life will be for the Iraqi people their new nation-state.
But I digress. In this historic time, we should be celebrating the human freedom which is beginning to take root in Iraq (and by extension the Middle East). Marked in the annals of time, January 31, 2005 will figure almost (if not more) as prominently as September 11, 2001 as a world-shaking event. The people in Iraq have waited for more than a generation to even hope to be able to voice their opinion and vote for their government, without fear of reprisal.
God bless ‘em.
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