In the words of James H. Joyner:
We owe it to the Iraqi people to do everything we can to help avert a civil war and give their fledgling democracy a chance. Saving them from themselves, however, is both beyond our power and responsibility. If they decide civil war is the only way to settle their longstanding disputes, we must stand aside and let them fight it and then try to salvage a relationship with the eventual victors. While that would be a bitter pill, indeed, after coming so close to achieving the incredibly ambitious vision of the neo-cons, it would nonetheless be preferable to the other alternatives.
Some of my personal thoughts on the attendant nature of freedom and the human person:
- It is impossible to give freedom to someone whose heart isn’t free.
- It is impossible to give democracy to a people who will not deserve it.
- Freedom is a gift of God related to agreement with the nature of God, and responsibility to live Imago Dei.
The problem with Iraqi democracy is a problem with Islamism. Look at the northern, Kurdish controlled aspects of Iraq that have embraced freedom full bore, with all its responsibilities. Now, look at the Islamist sections of Iraq. The distinctions are riveting.
But they only reflect the nature of Islamism itself. How many Islamist democracies are there in the world? How many Islamist countries where external, human freedom is protected and inner, spiritual freedom promoted? Therein is the point reflected.
As one Islamist person put it, in the recent protests, holding a hand drawn sign that said, “Freedom, go to hell.”
That is why we cannot save Islamist Iraqis from themselves. Until they are willing to live in the responsibility of Imago Dei, and respect the image of God in all humans, not just those who reflect Islamist mores, they will not have freedom.
And we can’t give it to them, much as we would like.
God save them from themselves, to Himself.
The larger lesson echoes for all humans, in all the little civil wars that beat in our own chests…