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Iraq and the academy

Pro-war student editorial from American University

All too often, American higher education offers students a distorted worldview of moral equivalency. This view is reflected in media accounts of student anti-war activism. Students are taught that all cultures and beliefs are equally justified and America is arrogant to tell others how to live, to tell despots which neighbors they cannot invade, or which weapons of mass murder they cannot posses. Freedom may work for Americans, it is said, but we should respect the “cultures” of despotism and fanaticism. Freedom, in short, is a personal virtue-not an inalienable right.

TODAY, SADDAM HUSSEIN finds himself in the twilight of his bloody career as the Butcher of Baghdad while the United States and 34 other countries prepare to end his regime and seize his weapons of genocide more than 12 years after he agreed to disarm.

Iraq is a police state. Its people are not free to leave, to speak, or to do much of anything else. Not even the most virulent members of the American Left dispute these facts. Rather, they argue, as the French do, that America has no right to impose freedom on others and that American lives should not be lost to liberate and secure others.

During a visit to The White House several weeks ago, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said, “We will never forget that we owe our freedom . . . to the U.S . . . And we also will never forget there have been many American young lives that were lost and sacrifice themselves for us. So for us, the U.S. is not only our friend, but they are the guarantee of our democracy and our freedom.”

It is not that our wiser, more experienced French and German friends know war is a pointless venture. Rather, the French are far too conscious of their impotence and are all too aware that a liberated Iraq would bring them further humiliation. It should therefore be no surprise that the countries most in favor of disarming Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein are those Eastern European and Middle Eastern states that lived through fifty years of Soviet-backed tyranny.

Will America disarm Iraq and impose freedom in the Middle East unilaterally? Hardly. America has dozens of allies ready and willing to make the world a safer place. If anything, it is France who is almost unilaterally obstructing the U.N. and NATO from enforcing mandates set forth by the international community more than seventeen times.

War is not something to be entered into lightly. If you ask the average college student if she supported war, her answer would probably be “no.” But that would be an answer of instinct, without analysis, without thought of the alternatives. But given circumstances without serious alternatives, a more thoughtful answer would be mine: a reluctant but confident “yes.”

Before the successful campaign against the Taliban, the same dire predictions were being made as are now being cast about Iraq: it will be another Vietnam, it will cause the “Muslim street” to revolt, thousands will die, millions will starve, and the indigenous people will cast off their new shackles of freedom in favor of civil war and oppression. A year and a half after the people of Afghanistan first enjoyed the cool and gentle winds of freedom we hear no apologies from the elitist academics and no retractions from the American Left.

The American Leftists and their European allies advocate foreign policies driven by shame rather than logic. We hope our voices today will make clear: they will not deny America the security it needs, nor deny Iraqis the freedom they crave. French delusions of grandeur aside, Iraq will be free by semester’s end.

Evan Wagner is a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences at American University, is the secretary of the AU College Republicans, and is managing editor for news at The Eagle, AU’s student newspaper.