Thursday, August 18, 2005
Freedom Must Be Earned
To appreciate and value something, we must earn it ourselves.
What is the end game in Iraq? What is our timetable for pulling out our troops? Just ask the Iraqis.
Growing up, I would often mention to my father how "So-and-so's dad just bought him a new car." This type of conversation typically occurred over dinner. Dad's reply was swift, and repeatedly the same: "So-and-so's dad sells drugs." It was never in the purview of my father to buy a car for his children, nor pay for their insurance. As a result, we got jobs, worked, bought cars and paid our own insurance.
Because of that, I learned the realities of automobile ownership. The maintenance costs, the operating costs, the liability costs. I knew I had worked hard in order to purchase the car, and thus I continued to work in order to maintain what I had already purchased. I never raced my car, I never drove it over terrain where it wasn't designed to be driven--I knew what it had cost me, and I was going to protect my investment.
The same principle applies to liberty. I recently perused "1776", a book by David McCullough. It recounts in excruciating detail numerous battles and setbacks encountered in America's struggle for independence from England. The struggles and hardships born by those early Americans often required them to sacrifice all that they had, including their lives, in order to earn what they wanted: liberty and independence from tyranny.
Now in our day and age, we are witnessing the struggle for democracy in Iraq. Some portions of the equation remain the same: a great cost has been paid, and in order to securely establish democracy, more sacrifice will be required. Once the liberty and independence of Iraq have been established, more sacrifice will be required in order to maintain the same.
There is one key difference, however. No one came into the American colonies and offered to fight the war for us. No one supplied the American militias with ammunition, uniforms, or combat training. No one but the Americans themselves bore the financial burden of waging a war against tyranny.
There were certainly setbacks for the Cause. Disease, desertion, lost battles, scarce resources and low morale all made their appearances. But in the end, the faith of the leaders and the will of the people prevailed.
Today, America is paying the price for Iraq's freedom. We have the resources to do so, and thus, I believe we have a responsibility to carry the flame of liberty to all the world. However, in order for Iraqis to appreciate and value their independence--and be willing to accept the responsibilities thereof--they too must pay the price. Freedom cannot be given to them pre-paid, packaged and delivered. Liberty is much too valuable to squander while someone else foots the bill. Iraqis themselves must step up to the plate, they must work and make the payments, and they must truly want and earn what liberty can afford.
There will undoubtedly be setbacks along the way. There will be doubts, there will be lives lost, and there will be no shortage of critics. Just as we live under the Constitution of the United States--and not the Articles of Confederation--we should understand that the Iraqi people may not decide on a flawless governing document on their first attempt. However, if the will of the Iraqi people is to seek after and establish democracy, then it will only be a matter of time before they succeed.
Until that happens, the U.S. will be there by necessity. If it never happens, the Iraqis will have squandered a precious opportunity and will have dismissed as naught the sacrifice of countless Americans. The future of Iraq is in the hands of the Iraqi people, as we stand by waiting for them to take the reins.
With that, I return to my adventures in capitalism.