What Is Freedom For The Iraqi People Worth?
I’m not going to try to snow you and pretend that the primary reason I favor an invasion of Iraq is because I want to see the Iraqi people liberated. To the contrary, the principal reason I want to see us remove Saddam is because I believe that is one of things we have to do to win the war on terrorism.
However, if I were chiefly concerned about the welfare of the Iraqi people, I would be even more hawkish than I am now. I say that although I know that Iraqi civilians are going to die in the coming war. Between Saddam’s last murderous strikes at his own people & collateral damage from our missiles, thousands of Iraqi civilians may die in the next few weeks.
But, how many are going to die if we do nothing? How many ordinary Iraqis would Saddam deliberately starve to death? How many innocent people would disappear into Saddam’s prisons never to be seen again? What if we went all the way and left the no-fly zones and removed the sanctions? We can’t keep them indefinitely you know. How many tens of thousands of Kurds would Saddam eradicate? Then how many people would die when he inevitably invaded another nation?
You want to tell me that the bodycount in the upcoming fighting is likely to be higher than Saddam would produce just as a matter of course in the next year or two? I don’t buy that for a second. As a matter of fact, even if ten thousand Iraqi civilians died in the fighting, that wouldn’t compare to the number of deaths Saddam would inflict on the Iraqi people if we left him in place.
Furthermore, what’s freedom worth? What’s it worth to live in a free society, where you’re not terrorized by secret police, where you can speak your mind, where you can vote for your own leader?
What about the Koreans? Had we not intervened in the Korean War, today 48 million people in South Korea would be living in grinding poverty and eating grass and moss like their neighbors to the North. Do you regret that America came to South Korea’s aid even though many South Korean civilians died in the war? Was it worth all those lives so South Korea could be free?
What about France? Should we have liberated them from the Nazis? Did Reagan make the right decision when he increased the chances of a nuclear conflict with the Soviets in order to win the Cold War and free Eastern Europe? How about Kuwait? A lot of civilians undoubtedly perished when we drove Saddam back. So should we have left Kuwait in Saddam’s hands?
Think about the civilians who died in Afghanistan. If you had the power, would it be worth it to deliver almost 28 million people back into the hands of the Taliban & Al Qaeda if it brought those 500 – 1300 innocent civilians who were killed back to life?
Were our own Founding Fathers wrong to fight against the British? They fought for their freedom & for ours, even though they knew that fight would take place in the midst of their own homes & families. Did they make a mistake by sacrificing so much for the freedom we all enjoy today? Was George Washington off-target when he said,
“Unhappy it is…that the once-happy plains of America are either to be drenched with blood or inhabited by slaves. Sad alternative! But can a virtuous man hesitate in his choice?”
How about Patrick Henry? Was he wrong to say,
“Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
I & most Americans believe the blood price our ancestors paid for freedom was worth it.
So do the Iraqi people deserve freedom any less than we do because they’re not strong enough to get rid of Saddam without our help? Make that argument if you wish, but I don’t see how any person can claim to care about the Iraqi people while advocating that they be left to the tender mercies of a sadistic maniac like Saddam Hussein.
That being said, I’m not so naive as to think that America is capable of fighting our way across the globe and removing every dictator who enslaves his own people. Moreover, even if we did have the power to strike the chains from every man and woman in a totalitarian society, there are more than enough wannabe despots & tyrants out there who’d soon find a way to put them right back on.
But in Iraq, not only will we have a chance to help ourselves, but we’ll be able to help 24 million brutalized, tortured, & oppressed human beings reach towards freedom for the first time in their lives. That’s something we’ll be telling our grandkids about with pride someday just as Ronald Reagan proudly said,
I have seen the rise and fall of Nazi tyranny, the subsequent cold war and the nuclear nightmare that for fifty years haunted the dreams of children everywhere. During that time my generation defeated totalitarianism. As a result, your world is poised for better tomorrows. What will you do on your journey?”
Our generation is going to win the war on terrorism and help hundreds of millions of people become free in the process. That’s the better tomorrow our generation is going to make for the world and I have no regrets about the course we’ve chosen.