Thursday, November 08, 2007

"God, I love freedom!"

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Here's one of the stupidest and most ignorant things George W. Bush has ever said:

If you lived in Iraq and had lived under a tyranny, you’d be saying: God, I love freedom, because that’s what’s happened.

And there are killers and radicals and murderers who kill the innocent to stop the advance of freedom. But freedom’s happening in Iraq. And we’re making progress.

He said this during a press conference yesterday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy -- TP has the clip.

The "freedom's happening" and "we're making progress" lines are stupid and ignorant, of course, but we've heard them before, in various forms. What deserves attention here is the "I love freedom" line.

Of course, Saddam was a brutal dictator, his regime among the most monstrous ever. I don't deny that, and, indeed, the removal of Saddam and the destruction of his regime was what I was hoping for when I supported the war way back when. I am a strong critic of the war and occupation now, like so many others, like the majority of the American people, but such criticism does not imply retroactive support for Saddam and his regime.

Regardless, the "I love freedom" line exposes Bush's massive and profound ignorance as much as anything he's ever said.

Would Iraqis prefer Saddam and his regime to what they have now? No, likely not. Do they "love freedom"? Well, some do, surely, if they have much of an understanding of it at all. But to suggest that Iraqis should be expressing their love of freedom, or of whatever they imagine freedom to be, while the despised U.S. occupation continues, while sectarian violence rages throughout the country, while bodies pile up in the morgues, given the Sunni insurgency and the Shiite militias and al Qaeda and local tribalism and Kurdish separatism and a central government that is impotent and corrupt, given the lack of electricity and health care, given widespread poverty and sickness, given social discord and infrastructural collapse, given a state of chaos and uncertainty -- well, with all that, and more, I think an Iraqi, even one with Saddam and his regime on his mind, would tell Bush to take his freedom and shove it up his ass.

Freedom is great, don't get me wrong -- but what does it mean when you live in fear, when your country is occupied (by America, no less), when you can't even walk safely down the street, when death and destruction are all around you?

Not much -- and you might just think it's not everything it's cracked up to be.

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