Across the ocean, in a distant land, a prosperous and rich country existed, whose wealth was largely built on its great natural resources. Its goods were heavily desired in the world market.
Since the country’s founding, however, this nation was tainted by its history of aggression, its systemic abuse of some of its own citizens, and its repeated violations of human rights. A pattern of brutality and racial subjugation permeated every level of society.
Even some of the nation’s top leaders had dirty hands in this matter, as they were in the forefront of this oppression.
Entire populations and cultures were wiped out. Others were displaced and relocated to the outer edges of the country.
Neighboring lands were invaded and stolen from its peaceful inhabitants. 1/8th of the population lived in constant fear and terror.
The government supported the continuance of such terrorism, and gave shelter to those who furthered terror’s objectives.
Lynchings were regular. Torture, routine. The taste of freedom escaped the lips of millions of citizens for whom beatings were commonplace. Mothers killed their own children to assure that their young ones would never endure the harsh realities of life in this country. Husbands and wives were separated. Children were stolen from their parents, never to be reunited. One exile reported that he had tar rubbed all over his face and then set on fire. Another told stories of having his nails squeezed off in a vice, only to subsequently have his toes smashed with a hammer. Citizens folded themselves into tiny suitcases, for days on end, in hopes of escaping towards a better life. Those who were caught in exile were instantly returned to their home, where they were taught harsh lessons for their disobedience. “Tens of thousands ordinary citizens have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, summary execution, and torture by beating and burning, electric shock, starvation, mutilation and rape. Wives are tortured in front of their husbands, children in the presence of their parents.”
On countless occasions, this nation failed to seize on opportunities to rid themselves of this curse, despite the fact that they promised to rid themselves of this disease over and over again. Even great international pressure was unable to persuade this nation to cease its tyranny over so many of its own people.
Having decided that “the time for denying, deceiving, and delaying has come to an end,” an international coalition (many of whom had been purchasing the valuable resources exported from this country) decided to invade this country in order to “advance human rights and tolerance and learning” and “stand up for the permanent rights and the hopes of mankind.” Without action, it was agreed, the innocent citizens would “continue to live in brutal submissionwith little hope of freedom and isolated from the progress of our times.” “The regime will have new power to bully and dominate and conquer its neighbors.” Appeasement, it seemed, would only allow this nation to get stronger, and in turn, subjugate even more of its own people. The coalition would carry “the hopes of an oppressed people” so that they “can shake off their captivity.”
“People everywhere prefer freedom to slavery, prosperity to squalor, self government to the rule of terror and torture.” “All people are entitled to hope and human rights, to the non-negotiable demands of human dignity.” In the end, it was hoped, “The long captivity will end, and an era of new hope will begin.” The coalition would help this nation “rebuild their economy, and create the institutions of liberty” and “a government based on respect for human rights, economic liberty, and internationally supervised elections.”
This nation is not Iraq and it is not Saddam Hussein. It is the United States before the Civil War. While the quotes can be attributed to President George W. Bush in reference to Iraq, they could just as easily be applied to the United States during her early years, with regards to slavery. How would U.S. History have differed if, in 1855, a foreign leader used President Bush ‘s logic to free and liberate an enslaved population in America?
PATRICK W. GAVIN is a freelance writer living in Washington, DC. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org