The Task of Helping Other Nations Enjoy Peaceful, Self-Governance
On March 17th, President Bush included the following remarks in his final ultimatum to the dictator of Iraq:
"As we enforce the just demands of the world, we will also honor the deepest commitments of our country. Unlike Saddam Hussein, we believe the Iraqi people are deserving and capable of human liberty. And when the dictator has departed, they can set an example to all the Middle East of a vital and peaceful and self-governing nation.
"The United States, with other countries, will work to advance liberty and peace in that region. Our goal will not be achieved overnight, but it can come over time. The power and appeal of human liberty is felt in every life and every land. And the greatest power of freedom is to overcome hatred and violence, and turn the creative gifts of men and women to the pursuits of peace."
Assuming that President Bush understands the full impact of the meaning of the words he spoke, let us understand them also from the perspective of America's Founding Fathers.
".deserving and capable of human liberty.."
The Founders did not believe that the basic rights of mankind--life, liberty, and property--originated from any social compact, king, emperor, or governmental authority. Those rights, they believed, came directly and exclusively from God. Therefore, they were to be maintained sacred and inviolate, John Locke said it this way:
"The state of Nature has a law of Nature to govern it, which ... teaches all mankind who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions; for men being all the workmanship of one omnipotent and infinitely wise maker; all the servants of one sovereign master, sent into the world by His order and about His business; they are His property....
"And, being furnished with like faculties, sharing all in one community of Nature, there cannot be supposed any such subordination among us that may authorize us to destroy one another." (W. Cleon Skousen, The Five Thousand Year Leap, p. 123-4)
Those who claim a kinship with the descendants of the great patriarch Abraham will especially appreciate the thought that the Arab people, who claim descent from Abraham, have in their makeup the potential to become a great freedom-loving, peace-promoting people, as was their great ancestor. However, believing it is one thing, yet achieving it is something else, as the American Founders came to realize.
".when the dictator has departed,
they can set an example."
Anyone who thinks that just getting rid of the tyrant will be the main task has not studied the history of freedom. We need only look at America's example to see that. Yes, we can be united to get rid of the yoke of dictatorship of a King George, but once that is done, as Thomas Jefferson worried, there is not one state that knows what to do with freedom. And if people don't know what to do with freedom, it can turn out nearly as bad as under a dictatorship. That's why Jefferson turned his whole attention to helping Virginia lead the way to freedom.
Most Americans have forgotten that it took us 180 years to come up with our freedom formula. Beginning with the communistic society of Jamestown in 1607, the Founders learned by trial and error as well as by studying lessons of history things that worked and things that didn't work. Even when the last battle of Yorktown was won, they still had some hard lessons to learn. When they finally came together in 1787 to write the Constitution, they were still not sure they had learned all they needed to know. But they had learned enough, and a miracle happened-the miracle at Philadelphia.
James Madison was to later declare that what was done in Philadelphia should not have to be repeated for every nation, but every nation will have to learn freedom's story and follow freedom's guiding principles in order to enjoy the same blessings of freedom. Then he concluded:
"Happily for America, happily we trust for the whole human race, they pursued a new and more noble course. They accomplished a revolution which has no parallel in the annals of human society. They reared the fabrics of governments which have no model on the face of the globe. They formed the design of a great Confederacy, which it is incumbent on their successors to improve and perpetuate." (Ibid. p.310)
So what do the Iraqi people, or any people for that matter, need to know to enjoy the full blessings of liberty? What did America's Founders say were the necessary ingredients?
".a vital and peaceful and self-governing nation."
First, there must be freedom of religion. Without freedom of religion there is no freedom of conscience. Without freedom of conscience there is no political freedom. Religion is necessary in order to have standards of morality. And morality is necessary as the foundation of liberty. George Washington said it this way:
"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.... And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion ... Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail to the exclusion of religious principle.
"It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. (Ibid. p.76)
Of course, the emphasis on religion and morality, including the required teaching of religion in the public schools, was not to be sectarian based. As Jefferson said:
"No religious reading, instruction, or exercise shall be prescribed or practiced inconsistent with the tenets of any religious sect or denomination." (Ibid. p.77)
Only religious principles that cut across the beliefs of all sound religions should be taught. The Founders said these were:
- There exists a Creator who made all things, and mankind should recognize and worship Him.
- The Creator has revealed a moral code of behavior for happy living which distinguishes right from wrong.
- The Creator holds mankind responsible for the way they treat each other.
- All mankind live beyond this life.
- In the next life mankind are judged for their conduct in this one.
One must ask himself what liberty seeking person, even in Iraq, would object to these teachings.
The second ingredient for a peaceful, self-governing nation is the necessity of having a republican form of government , where power is divided and limited and where problems are solved on the local most levels, reserving only a necessary few to be solved on the national level. Using the term "democracy" might be unavoidable in the beginning because that immediately means freedom in the minds of many. But setting up a system where people vote for everything at any level will eventually lead to disaster and the return of dictatorship as history has always proven. When government is controlled by the emotional appeal to the masses, it soon becomes controlled by the mobs that control the masses and freedom is destroyed. As the American Founders learned, a system of federalism (meaning different levels of government) with republics from top to bottom is the sure way to protect freedom and liberty. Jefferson explained it this way:
"The way to have good and safe government is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to [perform best]. Let the national government be entrusted with the defense of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations; the State governments with the civil rights, laws, police, and administration of what concerns the State generally; the counties with the local concerns of the counties, and each ward [township] direct the interests within itself. It is by dividing and subdividing these republics, from the great national one down through all its subordinations, until it ends in the administration of every man's farm by himself; by placing under every one what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best. What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body, no matter whether of the autocrats of Russia or France, or of the aristocrats of a Venetian senate." (Ibid., p. 238)
The third ingredient for the freedom of Iraq is economic freedom. Without economic freedom, faith in political freedom and liberty will soon subside because people will not be able to see the benefits of their freedom. With economic freedom, people will be able to quickly enjoy the comfortable things of life which will confirm their faith in their political system. As tempting as it may be to have the government control the economy for some perceived benefit, still the government must be kept out of nearly all economic matters. There are few exceptions, most of which would be handled on local levels. As Dr. Skousen explains:
"The Founding Fathers agreed with Adam Smith that the greatest threat to economic prosperity is the arbitrary intervention of the government into the economic affairs of private business and the buying public. Historically, this has usually involved fixing prices, fixing wages, controlling production, controlling distribution, granting monopolies, or subsidizing certain products.
"Nevertheless, there are four areas of legitimate responsibility which properly belong to government. These involve the policing responsibilities of government to prevent:
- "Illegal Force in the market place to compel purchase or sale of products.
- "Fraud in misrepresenting the quality, location, or ownership of the item being sold or bought.
- "Monopoly which eliminates competition and results in restraint of trade.
- "Debauchery of the cultural standards and moral fiber of society by commercial exploitation of vice -- pornography, obscenity, drugs, liquor, prostitution, or commercial gambling." (Ibid., p.181)
In all other areas, the people must be protected in their freedom to try, buy, sell, and even to fail.
"The United States. will work to
advance liberty and peace in that region."
The United States may have the greatest opportunity to advance real peace since the end of World War II. We could even do a better job of it than we did then. It reminds us of the hope expressed by John Adams as the Constitution was being written:
"The people of America have now the best opportunity and the greatest trust in their hands that Providence ever committed to so small a number."
Alexander Hamilton emphasized the same point as the Constitution was presented to the people for their approval. He wrote:
"It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force."
He went on to say that if the people of the United States failed in this mission, it would operate to "the general misfortune of mankind." John Adams later stated that if the people abandoned the freedom gained by the adoption of the Constitution, it would be "treason against the hopes of the world." (Ibid., p. 307)
I join with you in praying for the success and well-being of America's troops and in the success of America's freedom mission.
Earl Taylor, Jr.