The Impractical, Immoral, Forward Strategy of Freedom

by | Jan 27, 2006

The Forward Strategy of Freedom is impractical and immoral. It is destroying American lives for the sake of strangers while making us more vulnerable to attack. Of course America is safe when other nations are free–free nations do not attack one another–and we should support freedom in the world. But, that is not what we […]

The Forward Strategy of Freedom is impractical and immoral. It is destroying American lives for the sake of strangers while making us more vulnerable to attack.

Of course America is safe when other nations are free–free nations do not attack one another–and we should support freedom in the world. But, that is not what we are talking about when we consider our strategy against Islamist totalitarianism.

The issue is our strategy in the Middle East, our plan of action for organizing and directing our forces against a motivated enemy who plainly enjoys much popular support. The forward strategy of freedom is not about supporting freedom where it exists, but of trying to protect ourselves by bringing freedom to people who have never–not in five thousand years–ever known or valued it.

The impracticality of this strategy is obvious. It flies in the face of the nature of freedom, which requires the philosophic foundations that allow people to understand it, and to value it. Assuming that the Iraqis will throw flowers on the Americans, vote for freedom-supporting candidates, and then turn against the bombers in their midst is no more plausible in Iraq than it was in the Gaza strip, which has put the most blatant killers into power, or in Pakistan, where whole cities march when America sends one missile against an enemy whom they adore.

The results, for America, have been entirely predictable. I wrote in Capitalism Magazine, before the 2004 election, (“The Threat of a Faith-based Defense of America,” June 6, 2004) that “a greater fundamentalist state, armed with nuclear bombs” would be the consequence. We are now seeing the rise of a Shiite state in Iraq, and a stronger, more belligerent Iran. This has actually weakened us in the Middle East; the only opposition to Iran’s west, Saddam Hussein, has been replaced with a vacuum that the Iranians are filling. Our troops are in a forward position, but overstretched, emasculated from winning, and vulnerable to any civilian with an unexploded artillery shell.

The immorality of the Bush strategy is its blatant “otherism.” American troops are dying for others, while diplomats deal with the enemy. Of course this leads to impractical results. The immoral is the impractical.

America can be protected–Iran’s rise stopped, and Iraq’s path changed–only by renouncing the forward strategy of freedom in favor of victory over the enemy. To do that, we must cease to care about the Iranians, and destroy their military capacity and their state. What they do afterwards is their business–as long as they no longer pursue jihad against America. I hope Bush can find one burst of energy and do it.

The American people would have supported such a strategy three years ago. Bush’s approval ratings were at 80% when he entered Iraq. Had he driven to victory, the pro-appeasement intellectuals could have been revealed as at odds with the American people–and with the facts. Instead, Bush’s polls have dropped to 40%, and he has marginalized those very few writers who have had the guts to say that our goal must not be the freedom of others, but rather our own.

John David Lewis (website) is a Visiting Professor of Political Science, Duke University. He has been a Senior Research Scholar in History and Classics at the Social Philosophy and Policy Center, and an Anthem Fellow.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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