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Freedom Isn't An 'Agenda'

Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2006 9:10 AM


A British newspaper is reporting that NASA has 'lost' the original footage of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. Not the grainy images some of us remember seeing on television, but the original material - shot at 10 fps and then upped to 30 fps for broadcast (done by filming the image off a television monitor, which significantly reduced the resolution and quality of the image).

This could simply be an embarassing clerical error, a mistyped number on a routing slip but you'd think that if one were shipping something important to the National Archives, it would be double- and cross- checked and someone would speak up if the expected item did not arrive. ("Hey, Jack, did you get the Apollo 11 stuff? Yeah? Good, okay, just checking.")


Someone needs to put duct tape over President Bush's mouth. We're all safer that way.

Instead having learned to accept a win and keep his mouth shut, Bush gushed about freedom trimuphing over terrorism, and declared Hezbollah as the loser in the month-long conflict between Lebanon and Israel. Bush might as well have said, "Bring it on."

If Hezbollah are merely 'terrorist bullies,' then this kind of talk will likely set them off, cease-fire or no. If they are a politically savvy and accepted faction in regional politics, it will likely garner them support from Arab nations who see themselves in Lebanon's place.

Neither Iran nor Syria are backing down in the face of Bush's accusations that It's All Their Fault.

Bush also accused Iran of meddling in Iraq, though Gen. William Casey disputed any direct involvement.

And it wouldn't be a Bush Moment without an idiotic slogan masquerading as coherent foreign policy:

"History is clear: The freedom agenda did not create the terrorists or their ideology. But the freedom agenda will help defeat them both."

Yessir, let's hear it for the freedom agenda. I wonder what part of that agenda was on the table when we funded the mujahadeen in Afghanistan. I'd like to know what part of the freedom agenda serves fully-dressed Thankgiving turkeys as props for photo-opportunities instead of to our troops. Or skimps on providing potable drinking water. Or fails to complete projects in its new, exciting democracy.

And when you sit on your ass for a month while another country bombs a sovereign nation with weapons you provided, effectively punishing the innocent along with the guilty, do you honestly think Arabs see America as the bastion of freedom?

Freedom isn't an agenda. Our Founding Fathers didn't schedule it; in fact, they hesitated to take that last step of open rebellion against a tyrant king. And they debated it with passion, mustering intellect and reason, writing letters and papers on their nascent democracy. They didn't win on the strength of arms alone, but on the depth with which they felt and were able to express their views.

What we continue to neglect in the Middle East is that politics and religion are closely intertwined. Kicking the door down and saying 'cast off your shackles, ye oppressed' is just short of spitting on a nation's religious beliefs. Nor is it enough to say it's just a few fundamentalist loose screws who need to be slapped down with some extra-special love from the US of A.

One of the concepts of Islam is the umma, the community. If leaders are following the right path, the enlightened path, the community prospers. We're facing the perception of 'good enough' - and when you have electricity for 2 hours a day if you're lucky, spotty health care, and civil war - this whole democracy thing ain't scoring many points.



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