December 20, 2006
Does freedom beat in every human heart, the kind we enjoy in the West? This is President Bush’s contention and it is a primary rationale for our presence in Iraq.
There is no question that we must not lose in Iraq; that is, we must not allow Iraq to become a terrorist base. But the larger question of whether warring religious factions can, or want, to live in western-style freedom with tolerance for others who might believe differently, is still a very open one.
Much of the Muslim and Arab world sees us in bondage. They look at what we flaunt in public – immodesty, sexual perversion, abortion, materialism, taunting god to his face – and many say if this is freedom, we don’t want it. They see themselves as more free than us.
The larger question is whether our freedom can be imposed by force on others? Communism dominated a Europe that shared western values so when the Soviet Union collapsed, freedom was restored because most people wanted it. The same may not be true for the Arab and Muslim world. This debate will continue, but it needs to be resolved, especially before there are any more wars in which we plan to be involved.
Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist based in Washington, D.C.