The Purple Badge Of Freedom

When they write the History of the 21st Century, George W. Bush and his Presidency will not be ignored. At least that much is true.

One of Mr. Bush’s crowning “achievements” as the 43rd President of the United States unfolded today, when the people of Iraq entered polling places for the first time in fifty years to cast ballots for those they would choose to lead them.

What’s that? Iraqis have voted before? Shhh. That’s not something we’re supposed to talk about.

Mr. Bush and his cadre of hegemonists hear a divine calling to spread the light of freedom throughout the world, and will brook no deviation from The Christian Way.

Packaged and sold, of course, as The American Way, but the thoroughly Christian font of Mr. Bush’s take on the world is self evident nonetheless.

The actual number of Iraqis who voted today remains uncertain, much like the number of them who have died in the service of making today possible.

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice was first on the hustings, trumpeting the election on the Sunday talk shows as “what the Iraqis want their future to be … democracy based on the vote and not the gun.”

The paucity of institutional self-awareness in the Bush administration is staggering.

Meanwhile, armed militia festooned the roofs of polling places throughout the country; in some areas polling places and the streets around them were virtually deserted. Some 30 – 40 people died in violence attending the elections, and a large portion of the country’s Sunni minority refused to participate at all.

“Not a perfect election,” in the words of Ms. Rice, to be sure.

Consider a moment, however, the unlikelihood of such an occurrence.

Consider, too, the cost of making it occur. More than 1400 American lives and those of countless thousands of Iraqis. Over $1 Billion a week spent in the names of Americans as yet unborn.

And yet in other ways we show such concern for the unborn in America.

I’ve struggled mightily in recent months to reconcile my intuitive repulsion for Mr. Bush, and for each of his administration’s top officials, with the idea, and belief, that freedom is a good thing; that democracy is mankind’s best form of government; that the Iraqi people may well be happier and better off, and have brighter futures now they are out from under Saddam Hussein’s brutal thumb.

In the end, I can’t escape the conclusion I came to at the beginning of our adventure in Iraq: the fate of the Iraqi people lies in their own hands.

America’s might cannot make them free if they will not be free themselves.

If today will indeed be remembered to history as a crowning achievement for Mr. Bush’s stewardship of Freedom and Liberty and mankind’s most fundamental aspirations, then it must be the moment Iraq begins to show the world what it will be.

Iraq’s future must unfold according to the sweat and blood and vision of its own citizens and not under the watchful eye of us benevolent Americans.

As such, the happiest and most hopeful people in Iraq today ought to be the 140,000 American troops stationed there.

Something tells me their hopes would be badly misplaced.

Leave a Reply