October 28, 2003

Humiliation Solved: A Republic, If You Can Keep It

Steven Vincent has a guest comment on National Review Online in which he covers the subject of Iraqi humiliation. It seems that resentment is seriously breaking out in Iraq. From the article:

To offer one example: At a small social gathering in Baghdad recently, a woman expressed great excitement over the freedom in her life occasioned by the fall of Saddam. In the same breath, however, she added, "but I hate the occupation of my country so much I fantasize about shooting a U.S. soldier." When I suggested a link between U.S. soldiers and Saddam's demise, she replied, "I know that and you can't imagine how it humiliates me."

But the solution is easy, if unexamined. People say that a fish doesn't generally notice the water he swims in, it's just there, unexamined. The hard work of creating the US is eclipsed by the harder work of maintaining and increasing its perfection. Dr. Franklin said it best when asked what sort of government the founding fathers had given the US "A republic, if you can keep it" was his reply. Founding the US was one generation's pride. Keeping it is every generation's.

One thing should be noted. Franklin's famous comment came after the 2nd government's founding. The US had a little talked about first run that was, all in all, not working. The Articles of Confederation simply didn't work and six years after the 1783 Treaty of Paris formalized US independence, were scrapped and replaced by the US Constitution. Iraqis can do one better than the US merely by getting their first post-Saddam Constitution right enough that it can be adjusted by amendment, not by scrapping it and starting fresh less than a decade later.

Will Iraqi legislators pummel each other in their new parliament? It happens in Taiwan today. In the first generation post independence, it was so common in the US that there were specific pugilistic rules drawn up to regulate the practice.

Iraq's founding document will likely not have some of the major flaws that the US Constitution had at start. There will be no 3/5ths of people, no slavery, no indentured servitude.

There is plenty of opportunity for Iraq to surpass the US' achievements in freedom and self government but one thing that they might not understand that is vital. Every generation has the opportunity to sell its freedom for a mess of pottage. It is every generation's pride that they refuse to do so.

Nothing the United States of America can do will keep Iraqis free if they choose not to be. A people can always, can always sell their liberty. It is inevitable that outsiders are impotent in this sort of transaction. If they choose to live in freedom, they have the chance to become a beacon of light for all arabs, showing what free arabs can do. That would be a worthy addition to the story of the heirs of Mesopotamia.

And it is something absolutely, utterly impossible for the US to accomplish.

Posted by TMLutas at October 28, 2003 08:03 PM