February 09, 2006


For the past few years, I've been a steadfast warmonger. I have believed that all people on this planet, given the chance, would choose freedom over chains. I have believed that everyone is worthy of democracy, that my country was doing something Good by opening up Iraq to democracy. I have continued to believe in the fundamental value of democracy, even as my husband began to scratch his head. I've been an idealist, but he's actually been to Iraq. The seven signs of non-competitive states have troubled his mind and made him wonder if Iraq really will be able to pull itself out of the Dark Ages. I have insisted that it must be so, that all people must want to be free. But my heart sank when I saw this today:


This photo from Pakistan feels like a punch in the gut. It makes me want to cry, just as the al-Sadr photo did two years ago. Why doesn't my ideal chair ever match up to the real chair?

I don't want my husband to be right.

Posted by: Sarah at 04:49 AM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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1 It's by no means a foregone conclusion that democratization and modernization will work..but we have to do our best, because all the alternatives are pretty hideous.

Posted by: David Foster at February 09, 2006 12:14 PM (/Z304)

2 1. Is there widespread popular demand there for Western-style democracy? 2. Do they still have the WMDs they used to have? 3. Are we sending enough ground troops to keep order and seal the borders? 4. Will their oil revenues realy be large enough to cover the price of the operation? Someone write this stuff down, so that next time we'll remember to ask these questions BEFORE we invade.

Posted by: Pericles at February 09, 2006 03:17 PM (eKf5G)

3 Well I broke my promise and I'll post again. Reading your last post and this one you may begin to understand why I have real serious doubts about freedom and democracy for people in that region of the world. I would like to thank your husband for his brave service and you for supporting other military families because while I strongly disagree with many of your viewpoints you are a classly individual. Later Tommy Mullin BT3 USN (1990-1993)

Posted by: tommy in nyc at February 09, 2006 04:58 PM (NMK3S)

4 Nothing important is ever easy. Remember, many aspects of "freedom and democracy" that we now take for granted in the U.S. (and elsewhere in the world) were very difficult to achieve. Who, in 1830, would have ever expected an African-American female to be Secretary of State? What odds would anyone have put on even the continued *existence* of the U.S. in 1862? Who, in 1943, would have projected functioning democracies in Germany and Japan, where the popular demand appeared to be for Fuehrer and God-Emperor?

Posted by: David Foster at February 09, 2006 06:11 PM (/Z304)

5 I think it's disingenuous (or maybe just misguided) to link the "war for democracy" in Iraq to Muslim outrage at the recent blasphemy against their religion. But on to the picture itself: I don't think "our religion does not allow unconditional freedom of speech" means the exact same thing to us as it does to them. For us, freedom of speech superceeds what we would call 'hurting other people's feelings.' We have hate speech laws, but those are only for very particular cases. For Muslims, however, speech is not something that's seperate from their relgion. I don't think that the banner is supposed to mean that their religion is "banning" free speech. What it means is that their speech and their religion are one entity. Their identity is not divided in the same way that Western identity can be segmented - where we have a "personal" life and a "work" life and a "religious" life and a "bowling night" life, etc. etc. etc. I can only guess that they're using the term "freedom of speech" in that banner with the same kind of ironic tone that one might use to make fun of an "unconditional freedom of being stupid" or an "unconditional freedom of going to Hell." Remember, "freedom of speech" is a loaded term for Americans - the words are a cultural icon because they're part of the birth of America and part of its origins and myths. But the phrase doesn't mean that much outside of the country. Abstract "S.A.T." thought moment: Attacking the term "freedom of speech" is to an American what attacking Mohammed is to a Muslim. Basically, the world just full of different cultures with different values, and until some people accept this simple fact, wars will continue. I'd also like to add that if some Kansas newspaper ran a cartoon where God was portrayed as a big, drunk guy who was date-raping a virginal Mary one night, people would be less inclined to equate blasphemy with "freedom."

Posted by: Will Somerset at February 09, 2006 07:26 PM (eIQfa)

6 I can't add much to what is above except to say don't worry. He's a husband. I know from experience that husbands are NEVER RIGHT!!!

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at February 09, 2006 08:06 PM (DdRjH)

7 Your post got to me, enough so I went and read the link to Peters' 7 Sign of a Non-competetive State. While what Peters says is true, all he has really done is state the problem. He doesn't in that article, like most opponents to the war, state what he would do about the problem of evil states + terrorists + WMD * (sanctions eroding / everything else) = trouble. Also, part of the plan was to go over to the Arab world and personally slap them upside the head -- with fists and rifles, not bombs from 50,000 feet. We had to, after all our retreats from Lebanon to Somalia, show those SOB's we were willing to fight. Otherwise, they would just keep on coming with more 9-11's and more Coles until things got really bad. So, there we are. Maybe Peters is right and it will be 7 times harder to fix Iraq that it was to fix Germany 60 years ago. So what? Does that mean the job doesn't need to be done? No, it only means it will be damn hard, damn expensive, and take a long damn time. Kinda like renovating my home, come to think of it... Thank your husband from us for his service and you for your sacrifice.

Posted by: pedro at February 18, 2006 08:37 AM (cf25u)

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