Iraqis exuberantly jumping up and down, raucously celebrating their newfound freedom. That’s why we fight. Iraqis pouring into the street for a spontaneous venting of 35 years’ worth of pent-up rage. That’s why we fight. Iraqis publicly proclaiming love or hatred for anyone or anything of their choosing, with no fear of punishment or retribution. That’s why we fight.
We fight for our children and our grandchildren. We fight so that they can breathe free as we do now. We fight so that freedom eventually touches every soul on the far corners of the earth. They deserve it—and we need it.
Tyranny is the fertile ground where terrorism is sown. Unfree people are indoctrinated in a world where there is no individual liberty or respect for humanity. Unfree people are often denied even the existence of hope. In these environments where there seems little difference between terrorism and tyranny, terrorists have their found their strongest base of recruitment. Free people, however, are far less susceptible to the allure of evil.
The War on Terror isn’t just about intelligence or military; it is about creating a world dominated by the only true antidote to terrorism: freedom.
This struggle isn’t just about American security—it is about American values. But really, the two are one in the same. Those who do not support American values do not represent American security. The days of backing strongmen because they “supported” America must be over. Our security depends on it. Security in tyrants is no security at all. Freedom cannot happen overnight, but for an ally to truly be an ally for the long haul, freedom must happen eventually. Otherwise, the demons of history will come back to haunt us yet again.
In Saddam Hussein, we have learned something we must never forget: there is no such thing as a benign despot. It is only a matter of time before a man who terrorizes his own people sets his sights on those outside his borders.
With the Iraqi regime now a disgraceful chapter in history whose last words have been written, we must continue the struggle. Democracy and liberty must take root in Iraq, making permanent the freedom the Iraqi people have just begun to taste. Iraq can become that shining City on a Hill for the Middle East, injecting its neighbors with an unquenchable thirst for freedom. Democracy can spread across the Middle East without a shot being fired—but we must face the challenge with the same steely determination the President showed in finally ridding the world of Saddam Hussein.
The long-held doctrine of “stability” must be recognized as a fundamentally flawed foreign policy that helped create the world as it exists today. Looking at the Middle East in particular, there is no other viable option than “de-stabilizing” the hornet’s nest of draconian despotism. We can do as we did in countries like Taiwan and Chile, where President Reagan pressured allies to join the free world—and iron fists gave way to vibrant democracies.
We should not be ashamed for bringing American ideals of individual liberty and self-determination to people who have not known what we regularly take for granted. To those who say that we are attempting to make Iraq in our mold, I say to them, “I hope we are. We should be ashamed if we were not.” To realize the full potential of America, we must be the beacon of freedom for those who want what we are so fortunate to have.
George W. Bush has given our foreign policy the moral compass it should never function without—and the Iraqi people today are free as a result. For generations, Iraqis have yearned to breathe free, living under the thumb of a tyrant as evil as any the world has ever known. Today, they wake up in a reality that sets their souls on fire. They are free. And the world is a safer place for it. That is why we fight.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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