Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Liberty: A World Beyond Terror

A shortened version of this essay was published in the Times-News Saturday, September 23, 2006

On Tuesday, September 19 President Bush addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City. It was billed as a speech directed at Iran's desire for nuclear power, but it turned out to be much more.

President Bush declared, "At the start of the 21st century, it is clear that the world is engaged in a great ideological struggle, between extremists who use terror as a weapon to create fear, and moderate people who work for peace."

He envisioned a world "beyond terror", a world truly governed by the principles espoused in the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which says, "equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom and justice and peace in the world."

President Bush sees a world beyond terror only attainable if the world works together for the liberty of its inhabitants. While directing comments to the people of Iran, he said, "you deserve an opportunity to determine your own future, an economy that rewards your intelligence and your talents, and a society that allows you to fulfill your tremendous potential."

He then warned that the greatest obstacle to achieving this goal is Iranian leadership bent on "using your nation's resources to fund terrorism, fuel extremism, and pursue nuclear weapons."

Is there any doubt that he is right? The greatest threat to terrorism and extremism is liberty and democracy. As our president notes, the past 60 years have seen the European continent emerge from a world war and the evils of communism to become "whole, free, and at peace." Asia also has made great strides in progressing freedom in many of its nations.

Now liberty is making inroads in the Middle East. Afghanistan and Iraq have democratically elected governments and have seen dramatic increases in liberty. Many other Middle Eastern nations are taking steps to ensure and broaden the freedom and liberty of their citizens.

Naturally, as liberty advances, extremists and terrorists feel threatened. Extremists use terror as a weapon to steal the liberty of the citizenry. Moderate, freedom-loving people must stand up against the extremists and win this ideological war. The world must ensure that those who are choosing liberty and freedom are not denied.


Charles D said...

Bush talks a good game but you have to look at actions.

1. Bush and the Republican Party do not believe in the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To wit: Article 5: "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.", or #10: "Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him." and certainly not #25: "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control."

Bush neglects to note that Iran has elections and more democracy than Pakistan or Saudi Arabia or several other US allies.

Bush is not at all interested in democracy - that should be obvious from the 2000 election debacle and the voter suppression by his own party in 2004. The last thing that Bush wants is a Middle Eastern oil producing nation governed by and for the majority of its people. This speech, like all his others, is a total and complete lie. As always, it is clear that any statement by Bush, except those he makes when not well-rehearsed, are the exact opposite of the truth.

Cameron said...

But do you agree with what he said? Hate him all you want, but is he right? Call him a liar all you want, but is what he said something you can support? If so, you ought to hold him to it, and work to make it happen.

An overriding theme from many of his high profile speeches has been that terrorists find their recruits from the disenfranchised. Liberty can cure the terrorist disease by giving hope to those that have none. When he said, "you deserve an opportunity to determine your own future, an economy that rewards your intelligence and your talents, and a society that allows you to fulfill your tremendous potential," I agree wholeheartedly. Everyone deserves this.

Where countries like Iran differ from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan is their open support of terrorism and their efforts to procure nuclear weapons. They are a danger to the entire world and must be dealt with.

Charles D said...

Hold him to it? What do you suggest? Can we sue him for false advertising?

Why doesn't the Republican Party that controls Congress hold Bush's feet to the fire? They know he is lying, why don't you?

When you say "Where countries like Iran differ from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan is their open support of terrorism and their efforts to procure nuclear weapons.", do you mean that Saudi Arabia is a key source of financing for terrorist groups and the home of most of the 9/11 hijackers and that Pakistan has developed a nuclear weapon and given or sold the technology to terrorist groups and Iran hasn't? Iran is years away from a nuclear bomb and it's alleged support for terrorists is no greater than that of Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.

You really need to read more widely. Your perspective is being skewed.

Cameron said...

Hold him to it means being involved in the process, not just whining about it after the fact. You can nitpick politics and politicians all you want, but it is the citizen that allows things to happen.

President Bush's actions actually do closely follow what he has said in his speeches. His latest speech to the UN is simply one in a long line where he condemns terrorists and the countries that harbor them. His solution is to spread liberty around the world, and to fight the terrorists wherever they may be. He has realized that rogue nations like Iraq, Iran and North Korea, nations that have historically been at odds with the West and that have sought weapons for decades, are a threat to the West because terrorists want those weapons.

Do you agree with this? Is liberty what can and will defeat the terrorists?

Charles D said...

I agree that citizens need to be involved in politics, not just whine about it. We will have to agree to disagree on whether Bush's words match his actions. I fail to see any relationship there.

Let me address your key point: "Is liberty what can and will defeat the terrorists?" Probably not. Let's assume for the moment that when Bush talks about liberty and democracy he really means it. In the short term the result of democratic elections in the Middle East would be Islamist regimes that were strongly opposed to US foreign policy and to Israel. That would hardly be viewed as a defeat for the terrorists.

What we need to do is look at reality. Why is it that otherwise intelligent, middle-class, educated men and women feel they have no recourse but to strap bombs to themselves and try to murder others? What is driving them? Why is the US the main target of these groups? What factors increase the likelihood that young people turn toward terrorist groups?

Certainly overthrowing the governments of Islamic nations, occupying them by force, altering their Constitutions and imposing a charade of democracy at the point of a gun is not working. An intelligent and honest leader would try something else.