Reason vs. unfounded ideology

Letters to the editor

Posted: Tuesday, September 28, 2004

American democracy did not arrive overnight. Ignoring the democracies of the Greeks and Romans, our democratic institutions took root around 1215 A.D. with the signing of the Magna Carta in England whereby English barons reduced the arbitrary powers of King John. Eight centuries of gradually increased personal liberties, guaranteed civil rights, self-government, an independent judiciary, and the separation of church and state plus the elimination of slavery in the 19th century and continuing legal struggles over labor rights, civil rights, etc., etc., have gotten us to today. Yet, our current leaders in the White House think we can install democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq in a matter of months.

In the recent book, "Imperial Hubris," written under the nom-de-plume of Anonymous, a current American intelligence specialist on the Middle East and an admirer of Ronald Reagan, writes "our leaders led us into that effort (Afghanistan) knowing nothing about Afghan history, culture, and society, but confident that after the slaying was done, we could rebuild the Afghan economy and infrastructure and install a Western-style democratic and secular political system to replace the Afghans' two-plus-millennia-old tribal traditions. U.S. leaders also expected to nudge aside six-century-old hardy and conservative Islamic faith, which had become more pervasive, militant, and Middle Eastern-like over nearly 30 years of the Afghans' continuous war against communists, atheists, foreign occupiers, and each other." (p. 201)

The historian, Joshua Mitchell, writes, "Freedom is neither a spontaneous nor universal aspiration. Other goods captivate the minds of other people from other lands, order, honor, and tribal loyalties being the most obvious. And because these other goods orient these peoples no less powerfully than freedom orients us, we are apt to be sorely surprised when people who are liberated turn to new tyrants who can assume order; to terrorists who die for the honor of their country or Islam; and to tribal warlords whose winner-take-all mentality is corrosive to the pluralism and toleration that are the very hallmarks of modern democracy." - Washington Post, Aug. 3, 2003.

In the coming national election, we Americans must choose between reason, based upon the facts of history, or blind faith in the unfounded ideology of President Bush.

Lisle Hebert

Juneau



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