Much of what has gone wrong in Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam is a result of a culture that is very different from ours. As I thought about that recently it occurred to me that Iraq is typical of all (or virtually all) of the fighting that the U.S. has engaged in since the end of World War II in that our goal has been to establish or protect democracy. It would seem that democracy is our standard for measuring the relative liberty found in various nations.
The problem that we generate when we confuse democracy with liberty is that we get so focused on the structure that we forget the fundamental principle. The truth is that I would much rather live under a dictator who enforced law with consistency and equity than vote regularly to determine who would take the lead in telling me what to do and suppressing my freedoms as they deemed appropriate.
I believe that the last half century has offered conclusive proof that we cannot enforce liberty by the installation of democracy. Instead we should be spending out resources of time and energy towards the perfecting and perpetuating of liberty here so that our nation can stand as an example of liberty to the world. Rather than going out and policing other nations we would find that by policing ourselves, other nations would seek our counsel when necessary after they were able to support a free society.
Right now China, which is a fully communist country, seems more prepared to sustain a free society than Iraq even since we toppled their dictator. In fact, Iran might already be more prepared than Iraq is currently. Liberty cannot be imposed from outside. Our nation would not have survived its own founding if the society in the 13 colonies had not already been prepared to maintain the principle of freedom upon which our country was founded.
The question for each succeeding generation will always be – are they still prepared to maintain the freedom they inherited?
It is a question without a pre-determined answer.