Speaking at the USF Library last Tuesday, former CIA agent Ray McGovern confirmed the suspicions of many Iraq-war critics. “I have initials for why we went to war in Iraq,” he said. “O.I.L. O-I-L, O is for oil, I is for Israel and L is for logistics.”
With that, he appealed to all the conspiracy theorists: anticapitalist environmentalists, anti-Semites and your garden-variety protestors.
The ever-elusive weapons of mass destruction, which were believed by most of the world to be in existence, were part of the rationale, but the real, more overriding and philosophical reason for the war can be explained by listening to President George W. Bush’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly just the day before.
“We know that oppressive governments support terror, while free governments fight the terrorists in their midst,” Bush said. “We know that free peoples embrace progress and life, instead of becoming the recruits for murderous ideologies.” He later added, “Our wider goal is to promote hope and progress as the alternatives to hatred and violence.”
That’s something the antiwar crowd just doesn’t comprehend. Most of them suspect ulterior motives, and the rest, if they actually believe Bush’s rationale, don’t believe that it can work.
This rationale is basically this: Freedom leads to respect for human dignity and a better chance of peace, and denial of freedom and human dignity causes conflict and terror. You can see this by looking at just about any conflict in the Middle East that involves terrorists. The people, saddled with corrupt systems of government and oppressive government-mandated religion, lose all sense of hope. This lack of freedom and dignity is blamed wrongfully, largely in part through government propaganda, on those countries that do have freedom, like the United States and Israel, leading to an excuse to commit acts of terrorism against us.
Bush said in his speech that we have the chance to “fight radicalism and terror with justice and dignity, to achieve a true peace founded on human freedom.” And it is clear that those ideals are exactly what the terrorists and insurgents are fighting against. Those in the region who don’t like freedom, because it means less power for them to control the lives of others, are doing everything they can in Iraq and elsewhere to stop the success of liberty.
Even some who claim to believe in human rights have still come down against the war. Many of them, for whatever reason, don’t seem to believe that freedom can come to the Middle East. Somehow, they think of the people in that region as unfit for freedom, which is really quite a bigoted notion. They don’t agree with Bush when he said, “People everywhere are capable of freedom and worthy of freedom.” So they support isolationism and moral complacency, citing any other action as “imperialism.”
Actor Ron Silver criticized such people at the Republican National Convention by saying that they are “often on the front lines to protest repression … but they are usually the first ones to oppose any use of force to take care of these horrors that they catalogue repeatedly.”
Bush also rebutted them by saying, “Eventually there is no safety in looking away, seeking the quiet life by ignoring the struggles and oppression of others. Our security is not merely found in spheres of influence, or some balance of power. The security of our world is found in the advancing rights of mankind.”
Maybe they see military action not worth the cost. If anyone, right or left, thought the post-invasion period in Iraq would be easy, they were naive. Choosing to enforce the U.N. resolutions by backing our words up with action was not the politically popular or easy thing to do; but, for the sake of a more peaceful and free world, it was the right thing to do.
If only more people in our country had as much optimism as Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi when he said Tuesday in a press conference, “… democracy will prevail, the rule of law will prevail. The issues and culture of human rights will prevail.”
Adam Fowler is a senior majoring in political science. firstname.lastname@example.org