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Jewish World Review March 24, 2003 / 20 Adar II, 5763

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mobray
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No such thing as a benign despot | Watching what had happened in Iraq, I felt "shock" and "awe"-not at the military campaign, but at what Saddam has done to his own people during his reign of terror. At the end of a new Pentagon-produced documentary, I had become more desensitized by the 20 minutes of graphic footage than by 20 years' worth of violent movies and television programs.

My first reaction was exactly what the Pentagon intended: I knew that the war commenced later that evening was not simply just, but necessary. My second thought, however, was likely not what the Pentagon intended: The horrors captured by the camera were the handiwork of a man the U.S. once supported. And it was not a matter of Saddam going bad after he was our enemy, but well before. Our government backed him despite a growing recognition of his ruthlessness. But an ally he remained. Not until he went into Kuwait did he cross over into an enemy.

Iraq was an enemy of our enemy-Iran-and thus, an ally. Saddam was becoming increasingly sadistic-culminating in the gassing of the Kurds-but he was our sadist. He kept Iran occupied, serving the only function we cared about. We didn't want to know about the human meat grinders and rape rooms because, frankly, we didn't care. Despite earning his title as the Butcher of Baghdad, we "rewarded" him with chemical and biological agents. Some in the Reagan administration saw Saddam as a looming threat, but an ally he remained.

Foreign policy should not be dictated by morality, but it should not exist in a moral vacuum, either. Not because we should be the world's morality police, but because our national security depends on the spread of the only societies that can be counted as true long-term allies: free-market democracies. Truly free people pose the greatest threat to terror, both in terms of fighting terrorists and undermining them.

Self-governed populations are our most enthusiastic partners in the war on terror-and they will remain that way by their very nature. They are less susceptible to turning, like Saudi Arabia did a quarter-century ago. After the debacle at Mecca, the House of Saud saved itself by cutting a Faustian deal with the Wahabbists-and has been funding the people we are now fighting ever since. Governments responsible to people who are not dependent on them cannot do as the House of Saud did-free people would not allow it.

Free societies are the only inherently reliable allies because they share our values-not "Western" values, but the values of free peoples. Bad things can and do happen in good countries, but in the end, the values of a free people prevail. Leaders of a free country cannot terrorize citizens or invade neighbors. Leaders of a free country cannot fund terrorists or unleash weapons of mass destruction on thousands of innocents. And citizens of free countries are far less likely to join the ranks of terrorists because they would lose the most prized of possessions: Freedom.

Acutely aware of the necessity of freedom in the Middle East, President Bush has laid out a bold vision of democracy-but the State Department is doing its best to prevent it from becoming reality. The same day Bush outlined his plans, State released an "internal" report-which happened to get leaked to the Los Angeles Times-stating, essentially, that Middle Easterners are not capable of self-rule.

State may be right-particularly since it has long fought pro-democracy groups in Iraq. The Iraqi National Congress-the umbrella organization for various freedom movements-has been financially hobbled by State, despite Congress' insistence that the INC be fully funded. Making matters worse, State is now allowing the Iranian mullahs and the House of Saud to play major roles in a post-Saddam Iraq. History shows us this is a tragic mistake; there is no such thing as a benign despot.

Some have argued that the U.S. should not topple Saddam because of its hand in creating him. But even Dr. Frankenstein had to put down his creation. It is time for us to "put down" Saddam-and then fill the void with freedom, not the next Frankenstein.

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JWR contributor Joel Mowbray is the author of the forthcoming book "Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Endangers America's Security". Comment by clicking here.

03/20/03: Self-fulfilling tyranny
03/14/03: Gadhafi-State Department Alliance
03/12/03: Pushing "peace" pushes war instead
03/10/03: One last chance --- for the UN
03/03/03: Democracy domino theory
02/28/03: $1 Trillion tax cut?
02/12/03: Saudi Slavery in America
02/05/03: "We're Going to War"
02/04/03: State Department's idea of a "traitor"
01/27/03: State's cold shoulder
01/02/03: Canada: The Weakest Link
12/20/02: Real Story of Yemen's Scud Missile Purchase
12/18/02: Lott's got the Senate in the palm of his hand
12/12/02: White House moves closer to finding Iraq in "material breach"
12/10/02: A 9/11 plotter confessed
12/06/02: Saudi Spin doctors dodge U.S. marshals
12/03/02: Wild, Wild Web
12/02/02: Justice, finally, for terrorism victims
11/26/02: Sue McDonalds? I Lost 80 lbs With Fast Food!
11/25/02: The State Department's spin machine
11/22/02: Finally! No more open door for Saudis
11/20/02: A defeat for border security
11/18/02: Trial lawyers vs. homeland security
10/09/02: The visas that shouldn't have been
09/26/02: The "right" Miss America
09/23/02: Tax Cuts, R.I.P.
09/17/02: Freedom denied
09/11/02: Iraqi roulette
09/06/02: O'Reilly the wrong 'Factor' in Saudi abduction case
09/05/02: State's war on Americans
08/09/02: White House wants replace 'Visa Express' genius with woman accused of not helping free kidnapped American kids in Arab lands
07/23/02: Visas for suspected terrorists?
07/03/02: Saudis Fueling Mideast Terrorism
07/02/02: Dick Gephardt, Wannabe Deadbeat Son
06/26/02: Open door for terrorists still open
06/17/02: Open Door for Saudi Terrorists
06/11/02: Sacrificing liberty and safety
05/29/02: Coddling Castro
05/20/02: GOP running from social security reform?
05/09/02: Arab (sky) High Culture
04/24/02: Catholic Church's real challenge
04/17/02: How do you say 'media-bias' in Hebrew?
04/09/02: Sexually Explicit "Abstinence" Education?
04/09/02: A price on the heads of Americans overseas
04/02/02: Bush's New Version of Compartmentalization
03/25/02: Homosexuality a Factor in Sex Abuse by Priests
03/20/02: Government's "Candid Cameras"
03/14/02: Happy Abortionist Appreciation Day
03/07/02: Let dissent ring
03/04/02: Is Ted Kennedy a racist?
02/26/02: The Audacity to Be Black and Conservative

© 2003, Joel Mowbray. Adapted from the February 24 issue of National Review