|Column Archives||Biography||Books/CDs||Publishing Info||Opt In/Out||Feedback||Home|
|Moving Beyond Democracy||
| There was one term notably played down in President Bush's recent speech from the U.S. Army War College in Bethesda, Maryland. It is a word that has been uttered almost religiously since the toppling of Saddam; but given the social and political climate in Iraq, it could become as oppressive and brutal as the former Baathist regime. The word: democracy.
A government "of the people" only works when it is truly a government "for the people" -- and not just the majority, but every single citizen. In our own country, we have struggled to preserve the rights of each individual against the will of the majority. We fought a civil war to abolish slavery. We amended the constitution to allow women to vote. We have pushed racism from a majority view to an unacceptable (although still visible) minority view. Through a republic, founded upon a constitution, many wrongs have been made right, despite the popular will of the people.
A true majority-rule system cannot be our goal in Iraq. Without a moral foundation, it would simply become mob rule. In practical terms, the Shiites would likely take power and use it to oppress the Kurds, Sunnis and other minority groups. The only way such a system will ever work is for a representative body -- in the Bush plan, a "transitional national assembly" -- to develop a constitution that establishes a permanent rule of law, not the popular rule of the masses.
Now we face somewhat of a vacuum in Iraq, a place where factions still threaten the lives of each other and the stability of the region. Even if there is a majority on a given issue, it is not guaranteed to be beneficial or just. So why would we seek to establish a majority-rule system in such a place?
Blind allegiance to an ideology could produce disastrous consequences. Instead, we must seek to establish a system based on absolute truth. The majority is not always right; therefore, any system based on majority rule is inherently flawed. Without a basis of truth, such as our Constitution, human rights will invariably be trampled by the masses. Without the rule of law, stabilized with a system of checks and balances, the will of the people will blow about like the desert winds. A democracy without an absolute foundation could ultimately lead to a democracy of terror.
"A representative government that protects basic rights, elected by Iraqis, is the best defense against the return of tyranny," Bush said.
In order to avoid a return to tyranny, the Iraqi people must build a firm foundation of law, based on peace, respect and truth. As the leader of the free world, America must encourage and enable the Iraqi people as they change their way of governing and, indeed, their way of thinking.
When President Bush says we are going to "change the world," he is not speaking as a religious evangelist; he is speaking as a true statesman, seeking to inspire the hope of freedom for all. As freedom continues to embrace people around the world, they discover the blessings, charity, opportunity and progress that Americans have enjoyed for hundreds of years. Seeing others experience the blessing of freedom, as we have, is the change to which the President refers. This change is coming through the faith, courage and sacrifice of our military and civil servants, along with many extraordinarily brave citizens of the countries in which freedom is being birthed.
We must continue to face the ongoing threats with unwavering resolve. We will prevail -- whatever the cost -- because to lose this battle would mean more than the failure of democracy. It would be the loss of one of life's most precious gifts: freedom.