- “It is the beginning of our new freedom,” an Iraqi shopkeeper shouted at me. Then he paused, and asked: “What do the Americans want from us now?” [Independent]
Hey, good question. I wish I could tell you, Iraqi Shopkeeper, but I’m only an American. I can’t tell you what Americans want from you. I would imagine it has something to do with your uncritical acceptance of whatever America wants, but I can’t guarantee it will be that easy. Democracy is hard.
We’ve brought in your new President. I know you’ve never heard of him, but everyone in the Pentagon agrees that he is your new President, so you can consider him democratic. No, don’t thank us. Our pleasure. We’re selfless that way, as any American on the street will tell you.
What’s next for you? Well, um…okay, we maybe haven’t thought this part out too far ahead. We kind of got caught up in the whole war thing. Liberating you was so exciting.
But we know the first stage is a liberating military occupation. We’ll be liberating you with our Marines for, oh, six months or two years or ten years or indefinitely. Whatever it takes until we can consider you officially liberated. No, don’t thank us. Our pleasure.
Almost certainly, we’re going to have “security concerns.” Now that you have freedom, we’re going to pause for a little bit, watch the statues fall, get some more good TV to wash away those few images of those Iraqi civilians we liberated from their arms and legs. That stuff is really popular here–the statues thing, not the arms and legs thing. Then, we’re going to notice that you don’t know how to use freedom. We’re going to have “security concerns.” Especially when you start to resent our liberating security measures. Especially when you decide you want to do something that isn’t “in America’s interest.” Because that’s not democracy.
We had a similar problem last month with another bunch of people, many of whom we had personally liberated a long time ago. This bunch, called the Security Council, thought that democracy meant they could vote, and then the vote meant something. What they didn’t realize is that the vote only meant something if we considered it to be “in America’s interest.” It’s so clear–democracy is what is “in America’s interest.” (Duh–we only invented democracy. I know, funny isn’t it? But some people really don’t get that. I know, I know–you will. Here, let me pat you on the cheek.)
So if you start to get ideas that your democratic leaders in the Pentagon don’t like, we might have to liberate you from those ideas. You might not like that, but, hey, this is what democracy looks like. And when you band together with a lot of others to make your opinions known, maybe even perversely using the same kind of violence that we used to liberate you, that’s when things might get really democratic. And when you make a suicide run at one of our liberating checkpoints, or try to seize one of our (er, your) liberated oil wells, we’ll have to liberate some bullets from our guns and liberate your intestines from your body. No, don’t thank us. Our pleasure.
And as you increasingly show that you don’t know how to use Christianity, oh, wait, I mean freedom (I don’t know where that came from!), we’re going to have to step up the liberation process. We might even have to liberate you from your freedom. I know that sounds paradoxical to someone so unacquainted with the democratic system, but once you remember that “democracy” means “in America’s interest” (remember that?), you can see how it all makes sense. Oh–and we might even have to liberate some of your neighbors, too. We like to share freedom. That’s just how we are.
But, hey, why the long face, Iraqi Shopkeeper? This is a happy day. And it’s only going to get happier. You haven’t seen anything yet. Your liberation has barely begun.
No, don’t thank us. Our pleasure.