|||||Linkin Park - Hands Held High||]|
It's late, but can't sleep. Stayed up to watch the Clemson game. I don't like watching basketball just for itself, but I like the drama of the playoffs, and of course having my alma mater in them made it worth watching. They were part of history... first time in NCAA tournament history that the underdogs won all four games in a single site in one day. Sadly, they were favored going into the evening so they're going home now... but oh well. After the game did some channel surfing... nothing on. Ended up going to bed, laid there for a bit. Took my iPod and was listening to the new Linkin Park CD my wife picked up tonight, then tried to go to sleep and just couldn't.
It's definitely possible that the situation in Iraq now is better than it would've been if we had not invaded. Saddam clearly was a ruthless dictator, and the country as a whole is likely well rid of him and his regime. I don't believe it was our place to get rid of him. I don't think we were right to force our ideals on them. Democracy can be wonderful thing, but it's something you have to want. Having us trying to forcefully implant it is just going to make it even less likely to take root. It's the sort of thing you have to see over the fence and long for. You have to feel the lack, until you're willing to rise up and take it. Having someone else come in and force elections may mean you get a democratically chosen government. But what're the chances that government won't just say "See? We have the mandate of the people!" and use that as justification to solidify their power and control? You have to have a government that has conviction in the democratic process to put it in place. And democracy isn't easy. Take freedom of speech. We all want it, we all value it (more than we realize, I think), and yet one of our first reactions when hearing people saying mean, hurtful things is to want to shut them up.
Everybody knows American isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say, 'You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating, at the top of his lungs, that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free, then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest.' Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free.
Think about how much trouble we have coming to a consensus with two parties and a populace that, for the most part, gets along. Try to imagine just how difficult it would be to have a functioning democracy in a place where extremists think any lengths are justified to enforce their will. It's not impossible, but it's something that would be very, very difficult to implement. It's something that would have to be done by them.
I think what scares me most about this whole thing is just how much it potentially has hurt our ability to respond to other genuine threats. We're stretched thin. Our military forces have been tasked heavily with this police action, and because we went in almost unilaterally we've hurt our standing with the world at large. They'll be less likely to support us in future situations against potentially real threats.
I'm not against war. I'm not against being in the middle east. I do thing terrorism is a very real threat to our nation's safety (and, actually, the world at large). But I don't think this war in Iraq has made us any safer against it. It's great to think that we've perhaps disrupted the cycle of violence in Iraq and try to rationalize the action in that way. But many in the area resent our presence there, and in reality we've probably just added even more to the cycle of violence there. A quick, decisive action against those who attacked us directly is one thing. Showing that we're strong and will defend ourselves is a good thing. Arbitrarily attacking others because we disagree with them... that's something else entirely.