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Middle East Pretenses

Thursday, March 24, 2005; Page A18

Regarding Charles Krauthammer's March 18 op-ed column, "What's Left? Shame.":

Why does the Middle East need to be "Europe 1989 or Europe 1848"? Why can't it be "Middle East 2005"?

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It is an unaffordable, patroniz- ing conceit to imply that the West already must have been there and done that and that eventually other cultures will come to be like ours.

Is it also not "patronizing" and "quasi-colonialist" to go "rescue" the Arabs and give them the gift of democracy?

Rudyard Kipling once told us to "seek another's profit and work another's gain." Too bad the poem started, "Take up the white man's burden."


New York

Charles Krauthammer's analysis of democracy movements in areas once thought impervious to liberalism is serious, intelligent and honest -- except for one huge point that is less and less remembered.

Nowhere in President Bush's 2003 State of the Union address was the march of freedom across the Arab world mentioned. Instead, Americans were warned against "25,000 liters of anthrax," "38,000 liters of botulinum toxin," "500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent," "29,984 . . . prohibited munitions" and "five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb."

We were told that we would have to kill and be killed, not because people should be free but because Saddam Hussein would blow us to the moon if we did not.

If the Iraq war was waged to liberate a downtrodden folk, why was this cause not championed by President Bush, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Vice President Cheney or then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice?

Perhaps because such talk would ring hollow from an administration that has shown little interest in confronting repressive regimes from which we receive oil or strategic help, or which, like China, actually could fight back.

The Christian writer G.K. Chesterton wrote, "Lying may be serving religion; I'm sure it's not serving God." In the same way, lies may well serve politics but never freedom, even -- perhaps especially -- lies about freedom.


Rome, Ga.

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