Only Freedom Assures Peace
By Doug Patton
One of the great movies of the last decade – perhaps of all time – is “Braveheart,” Mel Gibson’s tribute to Scottish hero William Wallace. What makes the film great is the uncompromising manner in which Wallace refuses to negotiate away the liberty of his people. After refusing to bow to the authority of the brutal English king known as Longshanks, Wallace leads a band of Scottish patriots to repeated military victories over the king’s forces, until one day, through treachery and deceit, Wallace is captured.
After enduring torture, as he is about to be executed, one word still rings forth from his lips: “freedom.”
It is the same thirst for liberty that has driven every movement for human rights in every corner of the world throughout the ages. It is the same drive that caused the Founders of the United States of America to sacrifice their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. And it is the same motivation we find at work in the Middle East today.
George W. Bush knows that the one true path to peace is not the appeasement the Jacques Chiracs of the world would have us support. It is not through negotiation, as the corrupt minions of Kofi Annan contend. And it certainly is not found in the uneasy coexistence liberals professed throughout the Cold War.
Rather, it is found in the simple concept of freedom. No president other than Ronald Reagan, facing down the evil empire in the 1980s, has displayed the vision Bush has exhibited for what is required to bring about peace in the world. Bush understands, as did Reagan, that it is despots who start wars. Free nations do not go to war against each other.
Ronald Reagan’s leadership led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the crumbling of the Soviet Union. He knew that system of government could never survive when challenged head to head by the forces of freedom.
Similarly, George Bush truly believes that the destruction of terrorist states and leaders can and will happen when a sufficient number of nations embrace the intoxicating winds of liberation and declare their own independence. As the United States exports liberty to the Middle East, terrorist leaders will become increasingly isolated.
The current unrest in Lebanon and Iran is proof that freedom is infectious. Look at the faces of the young people in the crowd in Beirut, demanding the withdrawal of Syrian troops from their country. Not one of those faces appeared to belong to a person older than thirty. A full sixty percent of the Iranian population is under the age of twenty-five. These young, idealistic Arabs are sick of the repression of the mullahs, the ayatollahs and the secular strongmen.
Like that Chinese student who placed himself in the path of a tank in Tieneman Square, and like William Wallace fighting on the fields at Falkirk, the next ruling generation in the Arab world is willing to place itself in harm’s way for a taste of freedom. And despite protestations to the contrary from the American Left, the recent elections in Iraq have fanned the flames of dissent in other countries – just as George Bush said they would.
Because he is confident in the nature of God, President Bush recognizes that freedom is a yearning placed in the heart of every human being. This is why the president stubbornly refuses to back down from his contention that “Freedom is not America’s gift to the world; it is God’s gift to humanity.”
When it comes to our foreign policy, Americans need to defend vigorously the exportation of liberty. That is truly the only path to lasting peace.
Doug Patton is a freelance columnist who has served as a speechwriter, policy advisor and communications director for federal, state and local candidates, elected officials and public policy organizations. His weekly columns are published in newspapers across the country and on selected Internet websites. Readers can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.