I've noticed lately that the blue people have become rather quiet. This bothers me, if only because it means the red people have more time to babble.
As the events leading up to the current war in Iraq unfolded, I had a number of discussions with friends and family members about the appropriateness of going into sovereign nations and bombing them into submission. At the time, I argued that the United States was in danger of setting a dangerous precedent by essentially saying that any country big enough to go in and take another country over could do so whenever it decided things were getting a little too stale back home.
I also argued that by sending in troops, we would further isolate ourselves from much of the global community, which is largely opposed to the type of large-scale bloodletting we Americans seem to be so good at bringing to the table.
These views would seem to put me firmly in line with many on the blue team. Which, if it were true, likely would have gotten me kicked out of town and erased from at least one family member's will.
What kept me (barely) in the good graces of some of my more "kill 'em all" acquaintances was the fact that I usually like to believe that people have, in their heart of hearts, good intentions. Because of this, I never discounted the fact that the Bush plan for taking over Iraq as a first step toward the gradual democratization of the Middle East was based on the philosophy that democracy for everyone, in the long run, makes the world a safer and more peaceful place.
This argument got me plenty of grief from the "no blood for oil" crowd, many of whom were quick to quote a number of Orwell's more biting "war is peace" passages. And when I said Bush likely would win last year's election based on the simple fact that he looked and acted tougher than Kerry, therefore making him irresistible to our "American Idol" obsessed populace, many of these same people accused me of being a (gasp!) Bush loyalist.
For the record, I am not nor have I ever been a member of the Republican party. Frankly, some of the things that have happened under this administration (buying off journalists and curtailing personal liberties just don't sit well with me for some reason) have been downright appalling. But if you accept the premise that we're in Iraq as part of a larger plan aimed at bringing freedom to people who have been ruled by dictators and mullahs for thousands of years, it appears as if things may actually be going well.
That being said, I think it's probably likely that whoever is behind the scenes pulling the strings in the Bush administration is interested in the Middle East primarily because of its oil. In fact, I have little doubt that if the Mideast had no natural resources to speak of, we'd probably just let the place go up in smoke. After all, there are plenty of horrible places in the world run by gangster-style dictators who keep their people in worlds of misery unfathomable to the typical American. And we don't normally seem to care.
But credit needs to be given where credit is due. Those people who rallied so strongly against the war should be willing to admit that things appear to be looking up in the Middle East. Democracy seems to be taking hold in places like Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt and even Palestine, which for the first time in half a decade is a (relatively) peaceful place these days.
At the same time, I'm worried that the Bush crowd could end up thinking its ideology has been proven beyond any doubt to be correct. This scares me, and it should scare you, too. After all, the last thing the people who brought us the USA PATRIOT ACT need is to feel more empowered.
More than 200 years ago, many of the people who lived in this country decided that a system of government based upon the will of the citizens could allow people to grow and prosper in an atmosphere of freedom and liberty.
Today, with the advent of the Internet and 24-hour satellite news, it's becoming obvious that message is now reaching some of the most backward and repressive parts of the world.
It may only be a trick of fate, but President Bush now appears to be in the enviable position of being the guy on whose watch freedom rose up in the Middle East. Whether his initial motives were to control the flow of oil or to kill terrorists or to take over the world shouldn't matter. What matters are the results.
If more and more people in the Middle East throw down their guns and decide to get involved with the political process, it's likely the world could become a more peaceful place.
And no matter what color your political persuasion is, that has to be seen as a good thing.
Matt Tunseth is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion.
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