Sunday, April 23, 2006

Revolution Then and Now

Summary: In 1776, America was involved in a great revolution. American freedom fighters were struggling against the world’s only superpower for their independence. Once again, America is involved in a great revolution, only this time America is the world’s great superpower. So that would make the Iraqi insurgency today’s freedom fighters, right? Nope. Not even close. And I’ll tell you why…

In 1776, the American Colonies were thriving. They were producing, communicating, and creating a strong nation. Religious debate was healthy and vigorous. Ideas as to how the world works and how society should behave were nearly as various in their intricate details as there were people. Debate brought out the best in people, as the various opinions gelled and molded each other, until appeared in nearly each a common thread of liberty. Some felt that life under the auspices of Great Britain was just fine, while others felt that true liberty could not be obtained in such a repressive environment. A war over ideas ensued.

Shift forward to 2003. Iraq was not thriving. They were not producing, they scarcely dared employ anything but the most basic communication for fear they might offend the Mukhabarat, and nearly everyone, except for the chosen of the upper Ba’ath crust, was decaying beneath the weight of bureaucratic inertia and religious intolerance. Almost no one dared speak their opinion as it might be construed as grounds for physical torture, imprisonment, or worse. But beneath it all was a boiling cauldron—of frustration, of confusion, of a sense that there is something more to life. Another war over ideas ensued. And that war continues. Interestingly, when examined closely, it seems that the same war has merely experienced a hiatus.

Is Operation Iraqi Freedom about oil? Of course, to a small extent. It is to an extent about the free flow of goods and services in the world economy—in this case oil, and anything else Iraq can produce and export. Is Operation Iraqi Freedom about Weapons of Mass Destruction? Of course, to a great extent. Evidence is too great both about what Saddam Hussein at various times possessed in his WMD arsenal and what he intended to do with it to refute this claim. But the overarching reason for the revolution we know as Operation Iraqi Freedom is that men were created with the innate yearning to be free. Operation Iraqi Freedom is about liberty. It is about the desire to support fledgling attempts at liberty in Iraq and all across the globe, as well as to stamp out the well-established intentions of tyrants whose ability to spill blood and wreak horror across the earth could at some point grow too large to keep in check. That is why Saddam Hussein is gone. That is why we must take Iran very seriously.

What was the result of the numerically inferior Americans winning the American War for Independence? The result is the greatest, most religious, most religiously diverse, most technologically advanced, most caring and giving nation in the history of the earth. America does not gloat in her greatness, but rather gives the credit to God, and moreover wishes to share her success secret with any other people willing to listen.

Muffled and squelched by the conglomerate insurgency, the predominant majority of Iraqis are listening to the message. The older generation, steeped in oppression and aching material and spiritual want, has a harder time imagining what the message entails—yet still they see vaguely and want what it promises. To the younger generation, however, having not experienced so much of torture, put-downs, and conformity, the message clearly resonates.

The goal of the conglomerate insurgency is to destroy this freedom and banish the message from the minds of men forever. In their minds, Allah is perfect and will brook no imperfections in his human creations. It is therefore their dim and impotent mission to ensure that everyone except themselves is brought to this state of perfection by force. In some way, being on the vanguard of this dark crusade is a penance for their personal deeds of imperfection.

So to compare the soldiers in the American War for Independence with the insurgency that has conglomerated in Iraq is worse than an injustice. It is a disgrace. The only similarity between the two groups is that they are fighting for a dream. But oh, how the dreams diverge. Americans fought (and are still fighting) for the ability of all men to independently enjoy individual liberties, while the insurgency salivates over its potential dominion over the minds of their fellow men. In the first scenario, each individual is free to become anything his or her heart desires, while in the second state of affairs no one is allowed the peace of knowing that God knows and loves each of us individually—rather, the meaningless masses are limited to become only what they are allowed by the vanguard to become.


Matt said...

I'm taking a break from "Dead week" (it's our week before finals in college) and I read the article. I love (sarcastically, please note) how people call these terrorists freedom fighters. Freedom fighters do not kill women teachers because they teach. Freedom fighters don't hand out notices to men over thirty to marry in a month or be shot in the back of the head. Freedom fighters don't close down liquor stores because they're "against Islam", beat women because they don't wear hijabs (the headscarf) or chadors (the body encompassing coat) in some neighborhoods. Furthermore, we're there to help. We didn't put Saddam in power. I have a feeling the majority of the "resistance" is foreign, specifically Iranian and Syrian. I've heard if you go down to Umm Qasr you hear Arabic spoken with a Persian accent, just to give you an idea.

Frank Staheli said...

Matt, your last point is crucial and accurate. I have a good friend from the Najaf area who told me that it IS very common to hear Persian accents even in his area. I talk a little bit about this in my previous post entitled Muqtada al Ahmadinejad".