Spreading Freedom

by Miguel de Icaza

While watching the debate, president Bush made a statement about how spreading freedom was the right thing to do. And how eventually freedom will help fix things in the world. The CNN blog had a funny remark:

I love the way Bush talks about "spreading" liberty and "spreading" freedom. Like they're this peanut butter and jelly that can just be piled on top of slices of other countries.

A point that I think people have been missing is that the major source of the problems around the globe have to do with quality of life, freedom comes in a distant second place.

The focus on the war on terror I believe is completely missguided. Dropping bombs or shooting people will only exacerbate the dislike for an invasion. On the other hand, if social programs to reactivate the economy, to improve health-care, to improve schools, to create jobs, you will increase the number of happy people and minimize the discontent.

There is a whole debate about what "freedom" means, and it probably means different things to different people. Every once in a while I ran into people who miss the days of living under a dictatorship: from the Franquistas in Spain who think the country was better off with dictator Franco, to chileans that believe that dictador Pinochet was the best thing to happen to Chile since sliced bread. These people were enjoying their lives and hence had no problem with the imperfect states of government they had.

My point is that some people did not care about their freedom rights as long as they themselves were doing fine. Another example are some americans today. They seem to be just happy to reduce their own rights and freedoms for the sake of security (Patriot Act) or the sake of capitalism (The DMCA).

A better strategy to fight terror around the globe would be to revisit US foreign economic policy, to help organizations like the FAO, give economic relief and revisit the free trade agreements to level the standard of living around the globe.

The subject is explored from an economist point of view: here and here.

And of course, at the core of the problem I believe strongly is ultra-capitalism: companies and practices which are only concerned in increasing shareholder value with no social compromise (The movie "The Corporation" digs into this issue more).

Other post-debate links

On Korea's nuclear proliferation.

Last night I watched , very interesting documentary on the relentless effort to bring Clinton down. The ironic bit of the movie: while Clinton was preparing to do a speech at the UN on terrorism as the biggest threat to the world, the republicans were airing and promoting his deposition on the Lewinsky case.

The most interesting tidbit comes in the DVD: at the premiere of the movie, Clinton got to speak to the audience, and had great bits of insight. What makes the man most admirable is that he respects those that disagree with him, and proposes to engage in a discussion to understand the different points of view.

Posted on 02 Oct 2004