Letter to the Editor: do the ends justify the means?
Pervez Musharraf, our middle eastern "ally" in the war on terror, has declared a "state of emergency" in Pakistan. He has suspended their democratic constitution, effectively shut down the other branches of government, and has been imprisoning thousands of those who have protested his recent actions.
What could possibly be happening in Pakistan to create such a "state of emergency"? The short answer...elections. The Pakistani Supreme Court was about to decide whether President Musharraf was eligible to run again as president, and he, feeling the decision would not be in his favor, preempted the Supreme Court decision by shutting down the court.
President Musharraf is claiming that he has done all of this in the name of "defending his country" in the "war on terror". It's amazing to me how fragile democracy can be. It's also amazing how easily those in power can strip the natural rights we supposedly have protected in our constitution. But it's most amazing to me how many people go right along with those in power and lock up peaceful protesters in the name of "security" at the expense of "freedom".
In their push to bring democracy to the middle east, are the allies of the U.S. now dropping democracy like a worn-out shoe for a convenience in fighting the "war on terror"? Are we next? We have already dumped certain aspects of democracy like holding people without trial and denying free speech. President Bush's, July 17, 2007 Executive Order, "Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq", effectively authorizes himself (can someone say separation of powers?) to seize "all property and interests in property" of those the President decides is a threat to his "war on Iraq". Are we still living in a free democracy where we can speak out against actions our consciences tell us is wrong?
I hope, with everything inside of me, that our 2008 presidential elections are not going to be tossed aside in the name of defending our security. I hope that President Bush vehemently condemns the recent actions of President Musharraf and declares Pakistani democracy as one of the worst casualties in this "war on terror". I hope he makes an example of those who would abandon democracy for the proverbial 30 pieces of silver. Protecting freedom at all cost, even if that means a less potent "war on terror," is the only way to preserve freedom. There is no price too high to pay for democracy except, of course, the jettisoning of democracy. Unfortunately, this common sense principle has somehow become uncommon sense.
"Give me liberty or give me death!" used to be the war cry of every true American patriot. Our war cry now sounds like, "Give me security and I'll gladly give up my liberties!".
The ends do not justify the means; the ends are the means. In the push for world democracy, President Bush has continually stripped our heimhat democracy in the name of "protecting" us with the "war on terror". But if we intend to bring democracy to the world, we cannot bring it under a dictator. If we intend to bring freedom to the world, we must be the most free people on the planet. We must repeal the freedom-revoking actions that the current administration has imposed. The decision of the Supreme Court must be upheld in the unconstitutional warrant-less wiretapping issue and those who authorized it punished. There can be no quarter shown for those telecommunications companies who have betrayed us by complying with the administration's illegal action. Those who knowingly deceived us into believing that Iraq had WMD must be held accountable. Those individuals held by the U.S. in Guantanamo Bay must be given fair trials. Otherwise, what message are we bringing to the world? That democracy, natural rights, and fair trials are important, but only when it's convenient to us?
Freedom can be protected by a gun, but freedom can also be taken by a gun. Overnight, Musharraf has turned his freedom-protecting gun into a freedom-revoking gun. President Musharraf can so easily revoke democracy and enforce his dictatorial decision because he also runs the Pakistani military. Let the recent events in Pakistan be a stern warning to us all of the extremely fragile nature of freedom.