In the years since the invasion of Iraq, both sides of the resulting debate have had much to say about why President Bush pushed forward. Opponents claim Bush lied; proponents say that the invasion was inevitable. Opponents claim it was not the US’s responsibility; proponents say freeing Iraq is at the heart of our responsibility.
Unfortunately, the rhetoric and punditry has long since drowned out the complexity that is Iraq. As a result, neither side works with the facts anymore but instead with assumptions contrived to fit political positions. The resulting positions of both sides inform not just the debate on Iraq but also the debate over the US role in the world.
On May 2, a category 4 typhoon hit the Irrawaddy Delta in Myanmar (Burma) killing tens of thousands and leaving untold numbers destitute. The military junta that rules Myanmar refused to let most international relief personnel and aid into the country, meaning that the toll on the people of the Irrawaddy Delta will be unimaginably higher over the next months and years.
Perhaps the greater tragedy is that the United States Navy sat off the coast of Myanmar for more than a month with massive amounts of support and aid capability but powerless as people died and continue to die because the junta refused to let them help. There was even short-lived talk in the media about delivering the aid anyway, but that idea never received more than a hat tip from the talking heads.
Meanwhile, Michael Yon helps document the consequences of the typhoon and the free world’s paralysis. What he shows are a people in desperate need of the support of the free world condemned to suffer because the free world cannot bring itself to do what it really needs to do.
Therein lies both the reasons for the invasion of Iraq and the consequences of the nature of the current national debate. Five years after the invasion and seventeen years after Saddam Hussein invaded and raped Kuwait, too many involved in the debate have forgotten the lesson now recently brought to light again by the travesty in Myanmar.
This lesson is simple. If the free people of free nations believe that all people are equal and equally deserving of liberty, then it is incumbent upon those free people to liberate those who cannot liberate themselves. Tyranny, whatever form it may take, is the natural enemy of liberty, and for that reason alone, free people must act against tyrants even when such tyranny does not directly threaten.
Of course, this is an ideal far more easily spoken than acted on, but it is this ideal that formed the foundation for the invasion of Iraq and should have formed the same justification for the forced delivery of aid to the people of Myanmar. Free people cannot sit idly by while others suffer and die because of the actions of tyrants. Free people are obligated to intervene by the nature of their own liberty.
Once upon a time, someone said, “When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” A corollary to that claim is that that the only tool for the nail is the hammer. It is the inevitable obligation of free people to spread liberty, whether in Iraq or Myanmar. Wherever tyranny prevails, there is a nail that needs to be whacked. It is because of that proposition that the invasion of Iraq was right and why the invasion of Myanmar would have been.
Cross-posted at A Host of Contributing Factors