Posted by: spacewritinguy | January 2, 2008

Disagreements With a Fellow Republican

I spoke with my best friend this evening about the situation in Pakistan, which I’ve tuned out thanks to a cold and the onset of 2008/bowl games. He brought me up to date, and then more or less asked what I thought. I informed him that I thought this was a bad sign for democracy in the Middle East, and that perhaps we’d be better off just leaving the strongman (Musharaff) in there. My friend became a bit indignant and remarked that “It [democracy] seems to be doing okay in Iraq.”

Me: “Yeah, but only because our guys are there. You and I both know that it’ll sink back to chaos once we leave.”

Friend: “Well, it depends on how long we stay there, doesn’t it? We’ve got the bigger guns, anyway.”

At which point I became annoyed: “You don’t seriously want us to become an empire, do you?”

Says he: “Why not?”

Restraining my urge to whip-smack him over the phone, I replied, “Because you don’t want to be part of an empire. Perhaps you’ve forgotten what Rome was like back home while it was out stomping the provinces. Even the privileged or the Senators, if they pissed off the Emperor (or Empress) could find themselves and their family dead, their stuff confiscated, their bodies nailed to crosses…”

“But we’ve got a different system here,” said my friend. “The Founders knew what they were doing. After all, we (American citizens) have guns.”

My final word on this particular topic? “For now. Guess I’d better buy one soon.”

This proto-imperialist attitude is why I distrust the Bush Doctrine, and why I worry about my fellow Republicans. It’s like Napolean or ancient Athens spreading their versions of “freedom” across Europe at the point of a sword. Can you really HAVE democracy under those conditions? Would you want it? I’m sure the Iraqis now consider the 4th Infantry Division the Mother of All Mixed Blessings. Americans have been bitten by the “triumph” bug. Why, if we can use the military to defeat communism/terrorism, why can’t we use it to end suffering in Darfur? Ethnic cleansing in Bosnia? Blah blah blah.

Once upon a time, we prided ourselves on what we built, created, or accomplished, not who we conquered. Is this all that’s left, or is there still hope for republican-style (lower-case “r”) striving?

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