The basic flaw in the neoconservative ideology is that democracy cannot be imposed on other people at the point of a gun.
Furthermore, if neoconservatives came from an American tradition rather than a Trotskyite tradition, they would understand that America itself is not a democracy. Benjamin Franklin emerged from the Constitutional Convention and a lady asked him, "Well, Mr. Franklin, what kind of government have you given us?" He did not say democracy. He replied, "Madam, we have given you a republic — if you can keep it."
A republic and a democracy are two different animals. A democracy, which can actually work only in a very small country, allows citizens to vote on every issue. A republic allows citizens to elect representatives, who then use their own judgment to decide issues. If the citizens disagree with the representatives’ decisions, they can replace them at the next election.
Furthermore, mere elections are not what define America’s unique form of freedom. Today, practically every country in the world has elections, most of dubious validity. What most countries lack is a commitment on the part of their individual citizens to the concept of human rights, which cannot be legitimately abrogated by government.
For us, that concept took centuries of thought and conflicts to mature. It began at Runnymede when some barons presented a British king with demands that became known as the Magna Carta. It placed limits on the king’s powers and defined certain rights not only for the aristocracy but for the common folk, too. And the barons were there with their swords to make sure the king understood that it was not negotiable.
A great deal of blood was shed and words written and spoken before the concept matured. Today it’s found mainly in what in politically incorrect days were called the Anglo-Saxon countries — the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Our form of freedom is a gift from our English-speaking ancestors. In other parts of the world, government went off in different directions, even those we consider more or less free. But their concept of freedom is not the same as ours.
Ours is best summed up in the Declaration of Independence. All men are given unalienable rights by God. The sole purpose of government is to protect those rights. When a government instead abuses those rights, then the people have the right and the duty to overthrow it and create a new government.
Some Americans today are so stupid and/or ignorant of their country’s history that if you asked them if people have the right to overthrow a government, they would reply in the negative. I had a professor who asked that question, and in a class of more than 30 students, only four of us said "Yes."
For God’s sake, if you’re going to claim to be an American, at least read the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Federalist Papers. A good history of England and America certainly wouldn’t hurt.
Our concepts of a free society are as foreign to the Arabs (and the rest of the non-Anglo-Saxon world) as Arabic and Chinese are to us. If Allah wills, they might evolve their own version of a more or less free society, but it will not be like ours. And they darn sure are not going to accept anything imposed on them at the point of a gun by "infidels."
George W. Bush is dead-wrong to believe he’s been anointed by God to spread democracy. He was merely barely elected to serve the people of the United States in accordance with our Constitution. Even that appears to be more than he can handle. But if he tries to lead a crusade against the Muslim world, he will meet the same fate as the earlier Crusaders — defeat and disgrace.
Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years.
© 2008 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.