Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Can Freedom Be Imposed?

As the war in Iraq is moving out of the "decisive combat operations" phase, I'm been thinking about over the last week or so about the goals of the operation. Our purpose in this war was primarily to remove a threat to national and world security; along with that, we wanted to liberate the Iraqi people.

Some people, though, make more out of the second goal than is due, or rather, they treat it too blithily. What I mean is this: yes, all human beings desire freedom, by their nature. But we have to distinguish between different kinds of freedom, and then identify what kind of freedom we are giving the Iraqis in liberating them: political freedom, i.e., freedom from external coercion. As many would certainly agree, true freedom comes from God by His grace, not by the armed forces of the USA. This also means, though, that it was possible for the Iraqi people to be free in the greater sense even though they were politically oppressed while under Saddam's regime. And that leads me to my primary point...

How would we react if someone came into your home and said, "I'm here to free you from the horrible political regime under which you've been living for decades, but I'm going to kill two of your children and permanently main another. You have no choice in the matter." How would you react?

Yes, the Iraqis desire freedom, as all people do. But when it comes at such a great cost, they must choose it freely, and that they did not do.

I'm not saying that I've changed my mind about the justice of the war; I'm only "deflating" an argument I hear too often in its favor. In other words, I still believe that what we did was right, and I think it was just and right of us to liberate the people. But we must remember that there was a cost paid by some Iraqis, a cost which they were not given a choice whether or not to pay. And in this sense, I think we must recognize that at least a small number of Iraqis may hate us, because we killed their loved ones.

No comments: