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Sunday, September 26, 2004

National Review columnist supports ideas, not bullets (now there's an idea)

In a Friday column, Michael Ledeen takes fellow conservative George F. Will to task for contending that U.S. efforts at regime change in Iran have been supplanted by the bogged-down mission in Iraq.

Specifically, Ledeen writes:

"I think that Mr. Will got it wrong because he assumes that regime change implies military conquest. But we don't need armies of fighting American men and women to liberate Tehran; the foot soldiers are Iranians, and they are already on the ground, awaiting good leadership with a clear battle plan. The war against the Iranian terror masters will be political, not military. The weapons that will end the dreadful tyranny — so well described by Mr. Will and Mrs. Nafisi — are ideas and passions, not missiles and bullets. To our great shame, we have failed to support the Iranians' battle against their hated regime, but that is a failure of will, not a failure of means."

Indeed, history shows that all true regime changes do occur from within: witness the overturning of Communist power in Russia and Poland, Yugoslavia's election overthrow of Milosevic, and Indonesia's removal of Suharto.

For this reason, the Bush administration's approach to Iraq is all the more puzzling. It severely rescinded the goodwill feelings many world residents once had toward America. By virtue of George W. Bush's droning platitutdes, it has given the noble idea of fighting for freedom a bad name--who calls freedom an ongoing battle between a military administration and bloodthirsty insurgents? The war was launched in clear violation of international law, with inadequate planning and without direct sustainable objectives. Little effort were made to develop stable Iraqi alliances on the ground; instead the U.S. sought to maintain control through the administration of a few yes-men. By the time plans were put in place to develop an Iraqi security force, it was too late; the situation was already chaotic.

Bullets are sometimes necessary, but ideas are the strongest weapons. If democracy and the open society can't win the war of ideas, they won't win at all. At present, the U.S. does not have a leader with ideas. We have a assumed a form of bankrupt morality–a morality where God is seen in putting up a 10 Commandments statue in a park and not in providing health care for the needy. Democracy, as presented by the White House, is not centered around free press, fair trials and high voter turnout. Instead, the Bush Administration has centered its scope toward militarism, polarization, and obsessive secrecy. The citizens of America need to fight their own war of ideas on November 2: I hope you support the many seeking change.


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