Don't Stop the ACLU

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Spare some freedom?

After the original reasons for the war in Iraq turned out to be a little less than true, the Bush administration regrouped and focused its rhetoric on two words: freedom and democracy. It was a somewhat effective attempt to add an air of nobility to the cause. In the end, I guess we wrested a nation of people from the control of a tyrannical dictator and introduced something like democracy.

It's all well and good that Saddam Hussein is no longer in power in Iraq, but all the freedom and democracy talk invites the question of why Iraq and not the countless other countries where F&D are limited or nonexistent?

Remember FDR's Four Freedoms. Quickly, they are freedom of expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. When ideas such as want and fear factor into the freedom equation, it's easy to see that evil dictators and corrupt governments aren't the only ones who abridge freedom. Poverty, hunger, disease, and strife can be just as oppressive as the cruelest of dictators.

Nowhere on Earth is freedom more lacking than the continent of Africa. Some of the atrocities that are happening in Africa right now make Saddam Hussein's Iraq look like Club Med. Africans are caught in the grips of famine, civil wars, genocide, and an AIDS epidemic. Here is a mere sampling of what is happening in Africa:

- In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, civil war claimed 4 million lives before a tenuous cease fire ended the bloodshed in 2002. It was the deadliest conflict since World War II.

- In Rwanda, over 900,000 Tutsis and sympathetic Hutus were killed by Hutu militants over 100 days in 1994.

- Twenty thousand children have been kidnapped and used as soldiers and sex slaves in the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda.

- Four hundred thousand have died in an ongoing genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.

- An estimated 30 million Sub-Saharan Africans are living with HIV/AIDS, including 2 million children. Each day, about 6,500 people die from AIDS, a total of 2.4 million per year. As many as 18 million children have been orphaned by AIDS. In some countries up to 40% of the adult population has HIV/AIDS, compared to 0.3% in the United States.

It's definitely not a pretty picture. If we're so concerned about spreading freedom and democracy, why aren't we helping the people who need it the most?
posted by Maj. M.T. Rational XXXIV at 3:22 PM


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