November 18, 2004


Toward a moral foreign policy (Cal Thomas, Nov. 18, 2004, Jewish World Review)

In nominating Condoleezza Rice to replace Colin Powell as Secretary of State, President Bush has chosen someone who is a kindred spirit. The two not only subscribe to the same religious beliefs, they also believe that America has been commissioned to share its freedom with the rest of the world.

Natan Sharansky, the former Soviet dissident and current Israeli government official, told me the president invited him to the White House a few days ago to discuss Sharansky's new book, The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror, which he said the president had nearly finished and Dr. Rice was also reading. The book is a powerful argument for spreading freedom around the world as the ultimate weapon against totalitarian societies and fundamentalist movements.

Sharansky states his premise in the introduction: "I am convinced that all people desire to be free. I am convinced that freedom anywhere will make the world safer everywhere. And I am convinced that democratic nations, led by the United States, have a critical role to play in expanding freedom around the globe."

From fear to freedom: Even the most brainwashed individual can find liberation: an excerpt from The Case for Democracy by Natan Sharansky (Natan Sharansky, 11/22/04, US News)
The 1979 revolution against the shah of Iran had broad support in the population. It would quickly become clear, however, that the revolution had imposed a totalitarian religious order that was no less corrupt and even more repressive. In less than a generation, popular support has turned completely against the regime. Though elections in Iran are strictly controlled, with candidates vetted by the ayatollahs and with the media fully controlled by the state, Iranians have increasingly shown their opposition to the mullahs by electing those candidates who are seen as the most hostile to the ideology of the regime. After 25 years of failure, oppression, and economic stagnation, few Iranians can be brainwashed into supporting the ayatollahs.

The attitude of those living in fear societies toward America is a reflection of their attitudes toward their own regime. If America is seen as supporting that regime, as in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the people hate America. If America is seen as opposing the regime, as in Iran, the people admire it. A few months ago, a leader of a former Soviet republic told me about his recent visit to Iran: "It reminded me of the Soviet Union. All the officials criticize and condemn America, and all the people love America."

Even those who genuinely do hate America do not necessarily hate free societies. Rather, part of their hatred is due to the perception that by supporting the nondemocratic regimes that are oppressing them, America is betraying the democratic values it claims to uphold. [...]

The determination of men and women who are free never to return to a life of fear should never be underestimated. Indeed, the sense of freedom that comes from leaving the world of brainwashing and double-think is a liberation that is not soon forgotten. My own liberation from the world of fear began when I was still a student at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, a school that liked to compare itself to MIT. Figuring that in this school of "wunderkind," the conventional methods of brainwashing would have little impact, the authorities used other methods. The more sophisticated propaganda we were subjected to appealed to the importance of the work we were doing. All talk of rights, freedom, and justice, we were told, was just that, only talk. What do mere words mean compared with the immutable laws of Newton, Galileo, and Einstein? Political values will come and go, while science offers universal, eternal truths. Ironically, I was inspired to leave a life of double-think by a man perched at the very apex of the world of "eternal truths." In 1968, in an essay directed at the Soviet leadership, Andrei Sakharov, the most prominent scientist in the Soviet Union, wrote that scientific progress could not be disconnected from human freedom. The stifling intellectual environment inside the U.S.S.R. was retarding its people's capacity for invention and crippling the nation's ability to be a world leader, Sakharov wrote. The ideals of socialism would never be reached, he explained, if the Soviet Union did not embrace intellectual freedom. In one courageous statement, Sakharov had dealt a severe blow to Soviet power. The chief scientist of a superpower that prided itself on its scientific achievement was arguing that the nature of Soviet society was making it impossible for the U.S.S.R. to keep pace with the free world.

This last is the fact that even the democratic West has trouble grasping--that such systems represent no long term threat to us because they just don't work. In our zeal to defeat them we needn't delude ourselves that they are worthy adversaries.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 18, 2004 10:42 AM

That does not mean they don't represent short-term threats to us though.

Posted by: Brandon at November 18, 2004 11:13 AM

Brandon: They can kill a bunch of us, and that is a good enough reason for the government to act, even if the war weren't a good thing on its own. But this is not an existential crisis for the United States, nor does it seem to be interfering with the on-going existential crisis in much of the rest of the west.

Posted by: David Cohen at November 18, 2004 11:18 AM

Sheesh. The noodle brains got it all wrong. It's not Shhharon who's leading Bushhh by the nose. It's Shhharansky!

For Shhhame! (Isn't this just too, too hyshhhterical?!)

On the other hand, I suppose that Shhharansky still qualifies as a Zionist puppet-master....

Posted by: Barry Meislin at November 18, 2004 11:24 AM

The zealots always wear out their welcome, much as Cromwell's puritans did in England. The question always is "who gets to be the one to tell them to go?"

Posted by: Mikey at November 18, 2004 11:53 AM

The tranzis are positively freaked out by this. If ever there was a clearer sign that freedom is the way to go...

Posted by: M. Murcek at November 18, 2004 1:02 PM

well, even all the muggers working together couldn't steal all the money, but that is no reason not to protect your personal money from the mugger on your block.

If you think you can ignore problems because they will go away in XX years, then you're in an existential crisis yourself.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at November 18, 2004 8:40 PM


Crime went away when the mugger generation reached its 30s.

Posted by: oj at November 18, 2004 9:13 PM

Crime gone?

Wow, that must have been some headline the day it happened.

How could I possibly have missed it?

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at November 20, 2004 9:42 AM