Jamie Glazov: Like Reagan, Bush Is Now Using Freedom to Help End TyrannyRoundup: Historians' Take
The winds of liberty are blowing throughout the Middle East.
A peoples’ uprising is transpiring in Lebanon, as citizens of that tortured country courageously confront, in mass numbers, their Syrian oppressors and demand their evacuation.
This inspiring scene brings us back to the powerful images of Eastern Europeans rising up against their communist dictators in 1989 and driving them from power.
And so, today, Arabs in the Middle East are experiencing – and triggering – the fall of their own Berlin Wall
The Syrians are backing down and withdrawing from Lebanon. Egyptian President Mubarak is promising the first real presidential election in his country’s history. The Saudis are mumbling about giving their women the right to vote, and Palestinians, for the moment, have stopped handing out sweets when their suicide bombers kill Jewish civilians.
All of these developments are the direct result of the U.S. liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Thanks to the liberty that the Americans brought to those two nations, a domino effect has now been set off in the region. To be sure, not only Iraqis and Afghans crave freedom. As Walid Jumblatt, a prominent Lebanese Druze leader, commented:
"I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, eight million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world. The Berlin Wall has fallen."
Without doubt, the current wave of liberty hitting the Arab world is a profound vindication of Natan Sharansky's masterpiece The Case for Democracy, which we here at Frontpagemag.com consider to be the most important book of our time. President Bush’s second inaugural and State of the Union addresses were clearly based on its basic precepts: freedom is intoxicating and can penetrate any society or culture. And free societies can most successfully defeat their totalitarian enemies by supporting freedom movements within their totalitarian structures.
Mr. Sharansky makes the crucial point that, at one time, there was tremendous skepticism in the West regarding the possible democratization of the Soviet tyranny. And yet, Ronald Reagan’s support of dissidents behind the Iron Curtain eventually dealt punishing and deadly blows against one of the most evil and despotic regimes in world history.
Gauging the inherent weakness of any totalitarian rule, Reagan understood that the tiniest spark of liberty could send reverberating shock waves through any dictatorship. Thus, by simply extending freedom’s hand to those who fought for it under communist rule, Reagan helped fuel the collapse of the Soviet tyranny, which crumbled overnight without the U.S. having to fire a single shot or launch a single missile.
Reagan’s strategy was based on a profound truth nurtured by Henry “Scoop” Jackson, the famous Democratic Senator from Washington, and his Jackson Amendment: that championing human rights is in America’s strategic and national interest. Jackson perceived that pressuring the Soviets to respect human rights within their society would eventually soften their external aggression and cripple their own totalitarian hold at home.
Senator Jackson and Ronald Reagan’s wisdom was ultimately vindicated in the figure of Mikhael Gorbachev, who failed to grasp a profound truth when he attempted to reform and save his tyranny: democratization is mutually exclusive with totalitarian rule. Indeed, once despots start trying to behave like democrats, they inevitably unleash forces that destroy their own despotism.
Thus, the more the Reagan administration influenced Soviet leaders to act like civilized leaders and to lighten their regime’s terror, the closer the Soviet Empire moved toward the ash heap of history. Once the tyrants took the component of terror away from enforcing their own power, their system, which could not survive without terror, collapsed.
It has become transparently clear that these same Cold War policies can be successfully applied to the contemporary terror war. The more pressure the U.S. can exert on Arab dictators in the Middle East to stop punishing dissent, the more democratization there will be. And the ultimate conclusion of that process will be the fall of tyranny in the Arab Middle East. This will automatically defeat our terrorist enemy, whose roots reside in the Islamic-Arab world and its authoritarian structures. Our enemy will crumble because, as historical evidence and empirical reality demonstrate, terrorism is bred in totalitarian structures; it cannot find oxygen in liberal and democratic environments.
Mr. Sharansky has, therefore, crystallized a vital and priceless truth for the free world in its contemporary war with Islamism: the Achilles heel of our enemy is the same as communism’s was during the Cold War: the dissidents in their own societies.
President George W. Bush has understood these realities and this is precisely why he has enunciated his Freedom Doctrine vis-à-vis the Arab Middle East, just as Ronald Reagan shrewdly – and with staggering successful results -- did with his own doctrine during the Cold War.
Frontpagemag.com, therefore, takes a solid stance behind President Bush and his objective to prioritize the fate of dissidents behind the Islamic-Arab Curtain – just as President Reagan placed Soviet dissidents on the top agenda of American Cold War policy a generation ago.
As a result, Frontpagemag.com has created a feature on its site: “Freedom Fighters” – which will be dedicated to supporting dissidents and reformers throughout the Islamic-Arab world whose agenda is liberty and democracy. Among other things, our new feature will link the websites of Muslim and non-Muslim organizations fighting for freedom throughout the Arab Middle East.
Toward the end of the Cold War, many American politicians would raise the question of dissidents behind the Iron Curtain. Natan Sharansky has made it known that there were Congressmen who would even walk around with lists of dissidents. Here at Frontpagemag.com, we are going to follow this noble tradition and also provide a "pocket list" of dissidents. We hope that this list will be made handy to our political leaders in the West to keep pressure on repressive Arab leaders, and that activists and sympathetic members of the media will also utilize the list to nurture the West’s new spotlight on Islamic-Arab dissent.
For the forces of liberty to triumph, we need to let those courageous human beings who struggle for it under hellish and dangerous conditions know that they are not alone – and that we are with them. And in so doing, we will not only rescue millions of captive peoples; we will also save ourselves.
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