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Planting the seeds of freedom

By Henry Lamb
web posted August 23, 2004

Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, America's European allies were quite appreciative of U.S. power which assured that the communist tide would not wash across their borders. The U.S. and the Soviet Union were caught in a "balance of power" struggle that affected the rest of the world only incidentally.

For more than a decade, the world has been reshaping its vision, and the United States is no longer needed to protect the borders of its European allies. Instead of its protector, the U.S. is now seen as an obstacle to European aspirations. In the rest of the world, the U.S. is seen as a threat to unbridled ambitions of would-be dictators and religious zealots.

As the world's only super-power, the U.S. has emerged as the primary target of every ideology that opposes capitalism and representative government - which describes most of the rest of the world.

Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the American people clearly understood that the nation's first priority was to block the spread of communism. As this need evaporated, America's role in the world became less clear and subject to competing political forces.

The attack on September 11, 2001, threw a horrendous monkey wrench into the normal political process. Suddenly, what was perceived by many Americans as a new enemy, sucked the air from all other competing political objectives. It didn't take long, however, for the various political forces to find ways to use the new enemy as a way to advance their own political agenda.

France, Russia, and Germany quickly used the new enemy as a way to mount pressure on the U.S. to submit to the will of the international community. The anti-capitalists quickly mobilized to label the U.S. response as an excuse to seize oil for greedy corporations. And the religious zealots instantly celebrated the bravery and courage of their martyrs, using the U.S. response as a recruiting tool.

In the United States, people are taking a little longer to figure out what should be the appropriate response for the nation, and what is the appropriate role for the U.S. in the world of the future.

In America, people seem to be falling into one of three distinct categories. One group seems to believe that the war on terror is wrongheaded; that Americans should not be fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan; that the terror attacks are simply a reaction to U.S. foreign policy, especially U.S. support for Israel.

Another group believes that the U.S. should develop its response only within the United Nations, and let the international community assume the responsibility for the terrorist threat.

The third group believes that the U.S. must do whatever it takes to defend Americans from any threat, with the help of other nations if possible, but without it if necessary.

The view held by the first group was expressed enthusiastically by Howard Dean during the Democrat primaries. Despite early exuberant support, it was not enough to implant Dean and his views about the war at the head of the Democrat presidential ticket.

The group which wants the United Nations to direct the war on terror includes former Ambassador Richard Holbrook, often touted as Secretary of State in a Kerry administration. Kerry himself, however, most recently says he would not allow the U.N. to veto U.S. action, but also says he will enlist the aid of the same European allies who refused aid to the Bush administration. This group also includes the Democratic Socialists of America, the Socialist Party USA, and A.N.S.W.E.R., a radical activist front-group for wealthy socialists.

The third group believes that the U.S. should not look to any other nation, or to the U.N. for permission to do whatever is necessary to defend the United States. This group realizes that both Afghanistan and Iraq are but different battlefields in a much bigger war.

The war is between Islamic fanaticism, and whatever stands in its way. The U.S. is the enemy of Islamic fanaticism because the freedom and prosperity Americans enjoy offer a better future to Islamic youth than does early martyrdom. Islamic fanaticism cannot survive where representative government provides individual freedom and the opportunity for personal prosperity.

Before the fruits of freedom can be harvested, the ground must be plowed, the seed planted, and carefully cultivated through a long growing season. This third group realizes that in Afghanistan and Iraq, we are still in the plowing stage, in preparation for planting the only hope the world has for a peaceful, prosperous future.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization (ECO), and chairman of Sovereignty International.

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