Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Wise Thoughts

Fire of Liberty
The historian, multi-talented writer and senior editor of National Review, Richard Brookhiser has some wise and wonderful observations in the New York Observer on the writing of the Iraqi constitution. I wish other folks in this country looked at the process this way. I found these paragraphs very interesting:
We should insist, yet the Iraqis will ultimately do what they want (subject to their own later rethinking and horse-trading). That is what democracy means, and the Iraqis are enjoying a taste of it for the first time in decades——maybe ever——rather than submitting to the judgment of Baathists, Hashemites or Brits. Democracy is tough in the Middle East, where there is no culture of self-rule; Robert Strausz-Hupe, once our ambassador to Turkey, said that the Turks believe in democracy because Kemal Ataturk told them to. Democracy can be tough anywhere; H.L. Mencken defined it as giving people what they want, good and hard. Whatever ensues, we have the satisfaction of knowing that Saddam, who sought to harness W.M.D. programs with the world'’s second-largest oil reserves and the world'’s largest grudge against us, is gone; that the likes of Abu Nidal and the 1993 bombers of the World Trade Center will have to seek terror subsidies elsewhere; and that the Iraqis are better off than when he oppressed them and the oil-for-food program fleeced them. Those are achievements that are both noble and self-interested.

It is arguable, even so, that there were other, more important wars to fight, or that the Iraq war should have been fought differently. We might have trusted Saddam'’s incompetence a little more, and the world'’s intelligence agencies a little less, on the question of actual, up-and-running W.M.D. Donald Rumsfeld has been criticized for not sending enough troops, but if we had sent less, as he originally wished, maybe we would have had more to take down Syria as well. If George Tenet had been fired earlier, we might know what was happening in Iran. These are real questions, and they persist, in different forms, even as the new Iraq struggles for stability. A shame that America isn'’t asking them——one of the limitations of democracy.
Good Ole Rick Brookhiser seems to always step up to the plate and hit a winning run when you need it.

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