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We Just Don't Want Freedom From You
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On C-Span this morning, a caller insisted that in general people in the Middle East want free, democratic societies, which prompted the following exchange between C-Span's Brian Lamb and al Jazeera's Washington bureau chief Hafiz

Lamb: Is that true Mr. al-Mirazi?

al-Mirazi: Well, yes. People everywhere want freedom. They want democracy. But what they resent is the Americans coming in from the outside to force it on us.

So you'd rather sit in jail for 50 years, unable to break yourself out, rather than have someone help you break out? I've heard time and again how "humiliating" it is for despotic governments to have to be overthrown. And that humiliation is worse than living under a tortuous theocratic regime, such as the Taliban?

Let's keep the focus on Afghanistan for a moment, since it's supposedly a war we can all agree on (excepting those who thought Michael Moore's excoriation of the war in Afghanistan was brilliant).

Here was a case where a horrid Muslim regime provided safe haven and support for a fundamentalist terrorist group that was a base for a devastating attack on us. The Taliban didn't directly attack us (as critics pointed out at the time), but after 9/11 it was in our interest to overthrow the regime and attempt to replace it with a democratic government. This interest also dovetailed nicely with the interests of the Afghans, since "everybody wants freedom", no?

But presumably this is/was humiliating for the Afghans, right? Should that have been the overriding concern? You want to talk about humiliation, the Japanese population after WWII had lost a great war and their leader, who was nearly akin to a god, surrendered to the Allies. And this is in a culture where saving face is extremely important, moreso I'd venture than in predominantly Muslim countries. That's humiliation.

And yet democracy was instilled there "at gunpoint", the Japanese became a world economic power and pretty good friends of ours. They don't seem too much worse for the wear from their utter humiliation.

At least in the case of Afghanistan, we placed our own security above the concerns for hurting the feelings of the Afghans. Something tells me, in the long run, they'll get over it.

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