Saturday, December 04, 2004

All men created equal

In his recent column on the situation in the Ukraine, Charles Krauthammer points out a telling difference between European and American mindsets:

But this struggle [the authoritarian East versus the democratic West] is less about democracy than about geopolitics. Europe makes clear once again that it is a full-throated supporter of democracy -- in its neighborhood. Just as it is a forthright opponent of ethnic cleansing in its neighborhood (Yugoslavia) even as it lifts not a finger elsewhere (Rwanda, southern Sudan, now Darfur).

That is why this comity between America and Europe is only temporary. The Europeans essentially believe, to paraphrase Stalin, in democracy on one continent. As for democracy elsewhere, they really could not care less.

Maybe this difference has root in these words: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights . . . That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

He goes on:

They [Europeans] pretend, however, that this opposition to America's odd belief in spreading democracy universally is based not on indifference but on superior wisdom -- the world-weary sagacity of a more ancient and experienced civilization that knows that one cannot bring liberty to barbarians. Meaning, Arabs. And Muslims. And Iraqis.

Hence the Bush-Blair doctrine of bringing some modicum of democracy to the Middle East by establishing one country as a beachhead is ridiculed as naive and messianic. And not just by Europeans, but by their ``realist'' allies here in the United States.

Our founding fathers believed that all men were equal in the sight of God. While our country is no perfect example (slavery and the treatment of American Indians come to mind), we still espouse those values, and we are blessed with valuable likeminded allies.

Krauthammer closes by pointing out that we should support the Ukrainian protestors along with those who will come to be known as Iraq's founding fathers.

So let us all join hands in praise of the young people braving the cold in the streets of Kiev. But then tell me why there is such silence about the Iraqis, young and old, braving bullets and bombs, organizing electorate lists and negotiating coalitions even as we speak.

Those Iraqis working to secure freedom in their country do far more than brave the cold. To quote Mel Gibson in "We were Soldiers," they are "where the metal meets the meat," and they deserve our full support.