Way back yonder, when the Democratic Party had a soul, it had a president who was a vociferous advocate for human rights.
Democracy was in the balance, yet this president, standing against the tide attempting to dominate world politics, decried the notion that anyone, regardless of what part of this world they occupied, should live without four basic, fundamental freedoms.
Freedom of expression, freedom to worship and the ability to live free of fear and from want were the cornerstones of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s policies that he announced during his State of the Union address on January 6, 1941, coincidentally enough, nearly 11 months to the day before Pearl Harbor was attacked.
“In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential freedoms.
“The first is freedom of speech and expression – everywhere in the world.
“The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way – everywhere in the world.
“The third is freedom from want – which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants – everywhere in the world.
“The fourth is freedom from fear – which, translated into world terms, means a worldwide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor – anywhere in the world,” said Roosevelt.
The United States, he said, would become an Arsenal of Democracy, helping defend countries in Europe and Asia that were fighting German fascists and Japanese militarists. The American way of life, he said, would never be secure so long as someone, somewhere in the world, was oppressed.
Roosevelt knew instinctively that countries seeking to oppress others have an insatiable hunger to subjugate as much of the world as possible.
As a result of FDR’s bold policies, Europe and much of Asia are free today. Over the course of more than 40 years, the United States and its allies defeated the enemies of human rights: German fascists, Japanese militarists, and then Soviet Communists.
You cannot help but to admire FDR. His domestic and foreign opponents were formidable and yet he managed to outmaneuver and, eventually, trounce them.
Did he play fair? Probably not. There’s evidence that suggests he knew Japan would strike Pearl Harbor and allowed it to happen so he could gain the domestic support he so vitally needed to bring the United States into a war its citizens didn’t want to fight.
Studying Roosevelt makes you wonder what went wrong with the Democratic Party over the last 60 years. It’s gone from being a party that insisted the United States pay any price and bear any burden to support those who champion liberty to becoming a party that’s more interested in its own self-indulgence. Fortunately, for its own sake, it’s not alone: The Republicans are just as awful.
Each contender for next year’s Democratic Presidential nomination denounces the war in Iraq and, as they do, they signal to terrorists and insurgents alike that they’re more concerned about their rights – than the rights of those they slaughter.
FDR is rolling over in his grave. And Hitler and Tojo are jealous that they didn’t have the great fortune of facing the pusillanimous Democrats of today.
If you’ve joined today’s anti-war movement, keep something in mind: The people in the Middle East who want the United States out of the Middle East aren’t pacifists. They’re cold-blooded killers. The peace movement, if it’s successful in securing a United States withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, only condemns an Iraqi or Afghan citizen to a grizzly death.
The peace movement is anything but a peace movement. It’s a form of passive-aggressive fascism. Whether it realizes it or not, the movement is aligned with groups that have no compunction about killing innocent people; other than demanding an immediate U.S. departure from Iraq and Afghanistan, not a single political idea is shared between these groups.
The typical supporter of peace movement in the United States is a Democrat who should support anyone advancing liberty and human rights. The typical terrorist has likely never heard of John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thucydides, Plato and Aristotle, philosophers who influenced and created the very political freedoms that the West enjoys today.
But the average terrorist has definitely heard some hijacked version of the Koran and Islam, which inspires them to kill anyone – Muslim, Christian, Jew, man, woman or child – who doesn’t support their thinking.
Today’s anti-war movement is rooted in the one that rallied around the slogan “Give Peace a Chance,” forcing the United States to end its military and political efforts in Southeast Asia more than 30 years ago. The result: Millions of Cambodians were condemned to their Communist executioners. Communist North Vietnam was granted victory and went on to place millions of South Vietnamese into reeducation camps. Many South Vietnamese fled the country and many drowned in their attempt to live free.
If the peace movement’s conclusion is accepted at face value, once the U.S. military leaves Iraq and Afghanistan, peace breaks out. There’s only problem with the conclusion: It’ll kill some innocent man, woman or child.
The only good news from this conclusion is that the insurgents won’t have Americans to kill anymore. The bad news, however, is that innocent citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan will fall into the terrorists’ cross-hairs.
Then there’s the issue of Europe’s security vis á vis Iran as well as the security of those Persian Gulf and Middle Eastern nations allied with the United States, either covertly or overtly, since 9/11. These issues are never addressed by the peace movement.
President George W. Bush and his administration have truly mismanaged the country since September 11, 2001. The President was granted a golden opportunity to demonstrate to the terrorists and their sympathizers that Western political philosophy is far superior to the dictatorships, theocracies and monarchies they live under. In addition, the President had a wonderful opportunity to infuse the United States with a sense of patriotism and mission. He blew it.
The administration’s political aims would have been far better served had it focused on turning Afghanistan into a successful, self-supporting country. How this administration ever thought it could successfully turn around Afghanistan and, at the same time, turn Iraq into some sort of jewel of Middle Eastern democracy is anyone’s guess. Evidence suggests that they never thought through all the challenges they’d face.
Besides bad planning on Iraq, after defeating Saddam Hussein’s army, one wonders about the various companies that have benefited from contracts supplying U.S. military and political forces there. The manner in which these contacts were handled gives every appearance that the Bush Administration is more concerned about its corporate backers than it is about helping innocent civilians.
More than 100 years ago, at the conclusion of the Spanish-American War, an Indian-born British subject wrote a poem called “A White Man’s Burden.” Rudyard Kipling was in the United States as it achieved military victories over Spanish forces in Cuba and the Philippines. The war turned the United States into a global power because, for the first time in its history, it occupied land far outside of its territorial waters.
Reading the poem with the lens of the 21st century, when we’ve all been sensitized to the slightest slur, it’s hard not to look at this as something that insults people with darker skin. But, as Kipling saw the world, in this poem he was attempting to tell Americans that they had special role; their new mission, as he saw it, was to educate, lift-up and improve the native people of the lands they occupied.
Kipling was telling the United States it had a moral duty to instruct Cubans and Filipinos on democracy, freedom and human rights so they could advance themselves and their countries in ways that would never have occurred under the Spanish.
This is the same moral philosophy that guided President Roosevelt as he presented his State of the Union address under the storm clouds of early 1941, when the future of democracy, freedom and human rights was in question. It is the same philosophy that has bound American foreign policy for more than 60 years and will likely continue to do so into the foreseeable future.
FDR is known to have quoted Kipling from time to time. “A White Man’s Burden” was written when he was in his late teens; this poem, along with his education, which instilled him a sense of obligation to help the less fortunate, guided his political beliefs.
FDR is the patron saint of the Democratic Party. He infused it with a sense of obligation to those less fortunate and that’s been its hallmark throughout the 20th century and still is to this very day.
But when it comes to helping those outside of U.S. borders who are less fortunate, today’s Democratic Party sounds like the Republicans FDR faced during the first two terms of his presidency. They’re isolationists.
Aligned with the Democrats, today’s anti-war movement is without any sense of obligation. In fact, it’s racist. At the core of its message is this: Darker skinned people, Arabs in this case, are not the White Man’s Burden.