Saturday, October 02, 2004
You Can't Bomb Beliefs
...Muqtada al-Sadr's calls for press freedom may not include the freedom of women journalists to cover him. Yet he still deserves to have his right to publish a political newspaper--not because he believes in freedom but because we supposedly do. Similarly, Sadr's calls for fair elections and an end to occupation demand our unequivocal support--not because we are blind to the threat he would pose if he were actually elected but because believing in self-determination means admitting that the outcome of democracy is not ours to control.
These kinds of nuanced distinctions are commonly made in Iraq: Many people I met in Baghdad strongly condemned the attacks on Sadr as evidence that Washington never intended to bring democracy to their country. They backed the cleric's calls for an end to occupation and for immediate open elections. But when asked if they would vote for him in those elections, most laughed at the prospect.