Bush plants seeds of democracy

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake A Dec. 15 Associated Press story reported that several rocket explosions were heard in Baghdad on election day; a mortar shell hit near a polling station in the northern city of Tal Afar; a bomb exploded in Ramadi; another bomb was detonated at a voting site in Fallujah; a mortar round struck about 200 yards from a polling place in Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit; and a grenade killed a school guard near a voting site in Mosul. Tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers and police guarded polling centers. Bomb-sniffing dogs searched everywhere. And Iraqis walked miles to vote, as vehicles were banned because of threats of car bombs. Not only did Iraqis persevere, but they did so in droves. Election officials were forced to extend voting for one hour due to long lines. The press accounts remind me of those from January, when Iraqis voted for a national assembly. I vividly recall stories of maintenance workers sweeping up charred chunks of human flesh from around the feet of Iraqis who refused to leave their spots in line as they waited to cast ballots. In another incident, Iraqi terrorists suited up a man who had Down syndrome with a suicide vest; anything to halt what Al-Qaida ringleader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi deemed “the evil principle of democracy.” In all, 44 people in Iraq literally died to vote in January’s election, the victims of 38 separate bomb attacks on polling stations, in a voter turnout that exceeded America’s presidential election two months earlier. So, how did that simpleton in the Oval Office – the Idiot-in-Chief, as Michael Moore dubs him – get this one right? What’s his secret? When President George W. Bush insisted that Iraqis, like Afghans before them, would go to the polls to elect their leaders, many of us were skeptical, and not unreasonably. After all, the term “Muslim democracy” has seemed an oxymoron. Of all the areas in the world, the Arab-Muslim Middle East has been the least democratic. A 1999-2000 survey by Freedom House – done, importantly, before September 11, 2001 – found that while 63 percent of nations are technically democracies, an astonishing zero of the 16 Arab countries in the Middle East were democratic, the worst rate on the planet. Against those odds, George W. Bush has attempted to lay the groundwork for Middle East democracy in the two most unlikely, despotic places: the one-time Taliban’s Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Now, after free elections first in Afghanistan, and then repeatedly in Iraq, it looks like the so-called dummy in the White House knew something. Not only did they vote, they voted in huge numbers, with high turnouts, and under threat of horrible violence. The answer: The aspect of his character that, to many on the political left, makes him simple-minded – his religious faith. George W. Bush is convinced that Iraqis, like Afghans, will vote because of an inherent yearning for freedom placed in their hearts by a loving God. It’s actually not a radical idea. Even Thomas Jefferson, the secular saint of modern liberalism, wrote that all human beings are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which is liberty. Iraqis would choose freedom, said Bush, because God had implanted the desire into their DNA. “I have said many times,” Bush reminded journalists in 2003, “that freedom … is the almighty God’s gift to each and every individual. I firmly believe that.” Of course, when Bush made this claim, those who despise him reacted as if he were enunciating some kind of foreign, even fascistic, idea. In fact, Bush said nothing different than what had been said previously by the likes of Jefferson, Madison, Washington, Lincoln, Wilson, FDR, Truman, Kennedy and so on. There’s more to the Bush vision: In that speech to the National Endowment for Democracy, Bush concluded: “The advance of freedom is the calling of our time; it is the calling of our country. … We (Americans) believe that liberty is the design of nature; we believe that liberty is the direction of history. … This is, above all, the age of liberty.” The president made a mistake there: He should have used the singular first person “I,” not “we,” since millions of Americans did not share his optimism for the Middle East. Now, millions of us marvel at how he got it right, and under enormous pressure to reverse course. Paul Kengor is author of “God and George W. Bush.” He is also executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College and a visiting fellow with the Hoover Institution.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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