Liberals should support the coming war on Iraq. Ever since Vietnam, left-wing groups have been wary of our government’s ability to aggressively implement democratic rule in developing countries, but this concern has long since become obsolete. The war in Afghanistan has shown us that, with massive cleanup efforts, democratic revolutionary movements in even the most backward countries can succeed. Our war on terrorism, however, is far from over and we will only win it if our government commits itself to a more aggressively democratic foreign policy.
To understand our war on terror, we must first understand what terrorism is and is not. Terrorism is just one form of political extremism, extremists being those people who are willing to make others suffer in order that their message is heard. A terrorist, then, is an extremist whose publicity is achieved through senseless violence against innocents, often in the form of a suicide attack.
Terrorism, however, has its limitations. Terrorism cannot be used to achieve political gains without a subsequent public relations effort that forces governments to face whatever grievances are held by the terrorist group in question. In the United States, far-left groups supply cable news shows terror apologists to justify and rationalize attacks by far-right Islamic extremist groups in the Middle East. This unholy alliance makes it difficult for political moderates to get their voices heard, but it also makes it easy to raise questions about the pro-terror stances of large, politically oriented special interest groups.
To protect themselves from this vulnerability, terror apologists have created a national politically correct barrier. This barrier makes it impossible to publicly question anyone affiliated with a Muslim or Arab group in the United States regarding their support of terrorism or terrorist groups. No one is immune from this PC barrier; Harvard President Lawrence Summers and Alan Dershowitz both faced intense smear campaigns when they raised their concerns over the emerging pro-terror divestment movement. Other recent victims include Bill Maher and Alan Keyes, who lost their television shows due to overly aggressive PC smear campaigns. The media war on terrorism is nearly as gritty as the military war on terrorism.
The situation we find ourselves in now is akin to the famous “boiled frog” experiment. In this experiment, a live frog is placed into a pan of water on a burner. The heat from the burner is slowly raised, and because a frog can only detect large temperature changes, the frog remains in the pan until boiled. While groups all over the world work around the clock to make terrorism a legitimate tool for achieving political goals, our government wastes its time trying to convince an exhausted public to either worry about or not worry about terrorism, depending on the latest opinion polls. If this trend continues, the United States will soon become the boiled frog.
To avoid this unfortunate end, the United States must more aggressively promote democracy around the world. Former administrations hoped that simply by implementing free trade deals and opening up markets, democracy and capitalism would follow. Clearly this is not the case. The military and economic war on terrorism must be accompanied by a diplomatic war whose aim is to create more democracies in and around the Middle East.
Skeptics will ask, what right does the United States have to dictate what kind of government is implemented in sovereign nations? There are two answers to this question. The first is simply that citizens in backward countries whose understanding of world politics is based on government propaganda do not understand democracy enough to support it. This answer is unfortunately inadequate. It is likely that even with prolonged exposure to free media, freedom of assembly, and even the separation of church and state, there will not be enough support for democracy to induce revolutionary change.
The true answer is that the United States, as the world’s lone superpower, has the moral obligation to relieve suffering around the world. Slavery in the Sudan, religious intolerance in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and disease and starvation all over the world can and would be alleviated through aggressive diplomatic campaigns over time to spread democracy. Only with this attitude can we, the United States of America, avoid becoming the boiled frog. Furthermore, liberals should understand that the war on Iraq, despite that it is being led by a conservative administration, has the potential to become a stepping stone for the real alleviation of suffering of all peoples.
Neuman is an LSA senior.