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Published on March 4th, 2011 | by Daniel Luban


Please, No More About the Freedom Agenda

Charles Krauthammer’s column does not get off to a good start:

Voices around the world, from Europe to America to Libya, are calling for U.S. intervention to help bring down Moammar Gaddafi. Yet for bringing down Saddam Hussein, the United States has been denounced variously for aggression, deception, arrogance and imperialism.

The US “brought down” Saddam Hussein by invading and occupying his country. Pray tell, who are the “voices around the world” who are calling for the US to invade and occupy Libya? Perhaps Krauthammer can find some on the neocon right, but I would challenge him to find any Libyan representing any constituency with significant mass support who is calling for a US invasion.

Krauthammer goes on to draw the equally fatuous conclusion that “everyone is a convert to George W. Bush’s freedom agenda.” This has been a common tactic among neoconservatives desperate to vindicate Bush’s disastrous foreign policy: they take his freedom agenda simply to be the belief that all people should live under democracies — thus, whenever a people demonstrates its desire to shake off autocratic rule, they can claim vindication for the freedom agenda.

Of course, the freedom agenda was not merely the belief that democracy is a good thing — it was the view that the US should use military force, including the invasion and occupation of foreign countries, to bring about democracy. (Let’s leave aside for the moment the fact that democracy promotion does not seem to have been a particularly central motive for the original invasion of Iraq, and that the freedom agenda quickly took a back seat — as in Palestine and Egypt — whenever it threatened to bring to power anyone the US didn’t like.)

Does Krauthammer see a massive public outcry, inside or outside the Arab world, for the US to invade Arab countries and establish democracy there by force of arms? Let me suggest that Krauthammer, and any other hawks eager to co-opt the various Arab protesters for their own political agenda, might do well to survey the protesters themselves on a few questions, such as:

1) Do you want the US to invade your country?

2) Did you support the US invasion of Iraq?

3) Would you be in favor of the US starting a war with Iran?

4) Do you believe that democracy should only be permitted in your country insofar as it conforms to Israel’s security needs?

One could extend the list indefinitely. In the meantime, let’s please drop these lame attempts at historical revisionism, which cannot possibly convince anyone who remembers the events of the past decade.

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One Response to Please, No More About the Freedom Agenda

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  1. avatar JohnH says:

    The freedom agenda: Iran and Libya deserve freedom. Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar and Yemen don’t.

    Go figure!

About the Author


Daniel Luban is a postdoctoral associate at Yale University. He holds a PhD in politics from the University of Chicago and was formerly a correspondent in the Washington bureau of Inter Press Service.

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  • Named after veteran journalist Jim Lobe, LobeLog provides daily expert perspectives on US foreign policy toward the Middle East through investigative reports and analyses from Washington to Tehran and beyond. It became the first weblog to receive the Arthur Ross Award for Distinguished Reporting and Analysis of Foreign Affairs from the American Academy of Diplomacy in 2015.

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