Well, Congressman Ney is at least right about one thing their effort is small. Their recall of history is pretty thin too. For starters, wed all be saluting the Union Jack even today if the French army and navy hadnt won our war of independence for us at the battle of Yorktown. We might forgive the Congressmen a bit here because this fact is glossed over in most American history books. But the Congressmen can be forgiven less for not remembering that the beneficiaries of that French aid the nations founders were leery of the kind of flag-waving overseas military interventionism that they trumpet. James Madison perhaps said it best:
Of all the enemies of liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies. From these proceed debts and taxes. And armies, debts and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. . . No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
In short, the founders believed that staying out of other countries business prevented needless bloodshed and safeguarded liberties at home. That line of reasoning makes as much sense now as it did then especially when a president is about to launch an attack on another Islamic nation, which will most likely result in more retaliatory terrorism and, as a consequence, a further constriction of civil liberties at home. What makes America unique and different from authoritarian nations, such as Iraq, is the liberties for example, the right to disagree with government policy of which Madison speaks.
So the moniker for freedom fries turns out to be . . . well, rather Orwellian. The Congressmen are also hazy on the history of those fries. Turns out, they originated in Belgium. So maybe we should instead eat freedom pastries or freedom bread or pucker up for freedom kissing.
And why are the Congressmen picking on France anyway? U.S. plans to conduct an unprovoked invasion of a sovereign nation are roundly unpopular all over the world. Eighty percent of Turks oppose a U.S. attack on Iraq, and Turkeys parliament is reluctant to authorize a U.S. attack from Turkish soil. So I guess well need to be drying ourselves with freedom towels. What about China and Russia? They too are unhappy with the bellicose U.S. policy and could also, like the French, veto a U.N. resolution authorizing war. Looks like well need to play freedom checkers and eat freedom dressing. The United States is already playing freedom roulette by starting a war with unpredictable and potentially destabilizing effects throughout the Middle East.
And lets not forget about those Germans. After all, they are conspirators with the French and Belgians in the Axis of Old Europe. The German Chancellor has been the first, the loudest, and the most firm critic of U.S. war plans. Its freedom potato salad and freedom chocolate cake for dinner tonight. And, of course, if we didnt get the Belgians goat with the freedom fries, we can simply eat "freedom waffles."
Its beginning to look like we are faced with the unpalatable alternative of eating only English food. After all, with the rest of the world hostile to U.S. Iraqi policy, this seems to be the only politically correct alternative. And we may even have to speak freedom (now this is really Orwellian) if the unpopularity of the war in England forces Tony Blair to order British forces not to participate in the assault.
I, for one, readily admit that Saddam is a tyrant, and I would stop using something with Iraq (or even Mesopotamia) in the label if it would defuse the rush to an absurd, unneeded, and dangerous war. But I cant think of anything. Unfortunately for us all, President Bush apparently cant either.
Ivan Eland is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at The Independent Institute. Dr. Eland is a graduate of Iowa State University and received an M.B.A. in applied economics and Ph.D. in national security policy from George Washington University. He has been Director of Defense Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, and he spent 15 years working for Congress on national security issues, including stints as an investigator for the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Principal Defense Analyst at the Congressional Budget Office. He is author of the books Partitioning for Peace: An Exit Strategy for Iraq, and Recarving Rushmore.
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