Hawking Freedom

Inauguration Day (1,461 days until Bush II is scheduled to leave office).

All Bush’s liberty and freedom talk (here’s the link, if you have the stomach) is swell. But the kind of liberty and freedom he and his people are pushing is more a matter of public relations on one hand and pure faith on the other.

The public relations part needs no explanation. It’s manifest every time he or Cheney or Wolfowitz or Rice or any of the other hucksters of liberty talk about how we’ve liberated Iraq. Yes, we’ve invaded. We routed the army. We rooted out the old power structure, right down to ground level, whether it was wise or not. We’re capable of outmuscling the insurgents, when push comes to shove. We put the smackdown on Saddam Hussein, who has been forever reduced to a bedraggled old man cowering in a hole. And yes, we’ve handed out lots of soccer balls to kids and fixed some sewers and built some roads. The power grid still sucks, though.

For all that, we’ve let loose something we cannot control in the insurgency. For all that, we’ve created oceans of resentment and even hatred in Iraq and throughout the Arab and Muslim world that won’t just evaporate under our sunny intentions. And despite all the money we’ve spent and our willingness to shed our own and others’ blood to do it, what we’re creating in Iraq is unlikely to resemble anything like freedom and liberty as we would recognize it.

The marketing campaign for the march of freedom brushes aside incidents like U.S. troops opening fire on a family at a checkpoint, killing the parents; or troops treating a minister of the U.S,.-appointed Iraqi government like a terrorist suspect; or the fact our handpicked Iraqi leader, Iyad Allawi, is the subject of persistent rumors suggesting he has personally executed terrorist suspects.

Those realities are messy, so this is where faith comes in. Faith that Iraq and Afghanistan and everywhere else exposed to our light will see their way to the truth. If people are killed and countries devastated in the process, well, we’re helping them make the necessary sacrifices to have just what we have.

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