Free Will Applies to a Person, not a Country

President Obama announced that U.S. combat operations in Iraq will end on August 31. He said, "But the bottom line is this: the war is ending. Like any sovereign, independent nation, Iraq is free to chart its own course."

This is a major flaw in our foreign policy: we apply the notion of free will, i.e., “charting your own course,” to a nation instead of to the individual.

A person charts their own course; not a nation. A person is an independent being with a mind and can make rational decisions. There is no such mind of a nation; whatever decisions it makes are the decisions of some person or people in that nation.

If a nation “charts its own course,” it means that some people in that nation have the right to tell other people in that nation what to do.

There are only two possibilities for how a nation will determine its own course: either a few people will decide or the majority will decide.

Today, most are horrified by the former—that only a few people would decide on policy for the rest. Democracy, where majority decides, is considered the epitome of modernity and equality today.

But democracy is not necessarily better than dictatorship. It puts the control of a person’s life in the hands of the majority rather than the hands of a few. Democracy, it was famously said, is like two wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for dinner.

If we are really interested in allowing those in the Middle East to chart their own course, then we should demand that the governments in that area uphold individual freedom. This means a constitutionally bound government that guarantees the rights of its people, including the right to free speech and religion. This would mean that each person could chart his or her own course.

Take for instance the freedom of religion. If instead of guaranteeing a person to have this inalienable right, the right is applied to a nation, this means the government, either via the vote of the few or the vote of the many, can dictate to the rest in the country what religion they will have.

You may say that those in this region want to have forced religion, and we must submit to this. But, if they must force religion via the law, it means that not everyone wants it. They must force others to accept a certain religion, dress a certain way, and limit their speech to certain things. If everyone wanted to do these things, e.g., dress a certain way, even under freedom, they still could. Nothing would stop them from dressing as their religion dictates, but they would not be forcing those who do not want to dress this way to do so.

After our brave U.S. and Allied troops fought Operating Iraqi Freedom and worked to establish the new government in Iraq, we should have demanded a free government. Most of all, we should have demanded a separation of religion and state. This is what we did in Japan after World War II. This is a quote from Robert Spencer from

Now, in 1945, the McArthur government — the occupational government in Japan — issued an edict  saying that Shinto (the religion of the Japanese that had fueled Japanese imperial militarism in World War II) would have no interference from the United States' occupying forces as an expression of individual piety, as the religion of any Japanese citizen. No interference whatsoever from the government. However, Shinto would have no role in the government or in the schools.

The distinction was made — it was imposed from without — that Shinto would have no way to express the political militarism that had led to World War II in the first place.

Our own self-interest dictates an interest in freedom of religion in the Middle East. Those that are at war with us are Islamic terrorists who say proudly that they attack us in the name of their religion. Many keep insisting that these Islamic terrorists are hijacking an otherwise peaceful religion. They are not. Islamic terrorists are in every way Islamic.

We don’t hear people constantly reminding us that Christianity is peaceful or that Buddhism is peaceful or that the Amish are certainly peaceful. Why do we constantly hear that “Islam is peace”? It is because it is not.

Anyone who criticizes Islam is painted as a bigoted ogre. But why should those who speak out against it be considered the ogres when they are speaking out against the violence, oppression, and primitive life that we see in the Middle East, all due to Islam.

Islam is a violent religion and this is in plain sight for everyone to see. The Koran is filled with insults and threats aimed at infidels. My own study of the verses in the Koran found that over 50% of them are hostile to infidels: claiming that they are stupid, blind, and thankless; that they will go to hell where they will choke on food, have no friends, and have boiling water poured on them; and that Allah loves those who fight against them. Muslims are commanded to fight against infidels until the entire world be “of God’s”—only the weak are excused from fighting. Once they conquer an infidel nation, the Koran dictates that Muslims have a right to the infidels’ houses. Infidels are either to convert or, if they want, they can keep their religion but they must pay taxes to Muslims, living as second class citizens. Islam is the reason that the Middle East is worse than the Dark Ages, which should be plainly obvious to any Westerner.

So as long as Islam is seriously embraced by anyone, there will be Islamic terrorism. Islamic terrorists have existed for 1400 years, since the days of Muhammad. Muhammad himself was a warlord, murderer, and pedophile. If alive today, he would be considered a terrorist. Muslims in separate lands and times have picked up the Koran and been inspired to terrorism.

We can fight Islamic terrorism militarily. Those who are fighting terrorism are certainly brave and are providing us security. However, once we defeat one cell of terrorism, another will grow. We need to take Islamic terrorism out at its root—by challenging the root of it, Islamic ideology.

This is not to advocate some kind of mass genocide against Muslims, a usual smear against a moral stance against Islam. Most people just accept the major religion of their time without question. Many of those Muslims feel threatened to reject Islam for fear of repercussions should they leave it.

This is also not to advocate any kind of limitation on Muslim immigration to America. Most Muslims (the non-terrorist ones) who come to America, where they are given freedom of religion and the potential for upwards mobility (the American dream), assimilate quite well, become Westernized, and mostly abandon their religion. Let me make this clear: The battle against Islam itself is an ideological battle not a physical one.

However, one legitimate political weapon against Islamic terrorism is to put pressure on Middle Eastern countries to have freedom of religion: full, unadulterated freedom of religion. Islam in particular can only thrive when a few are allowed to bully and terrorize the rest. Let each person, not the nation, decide for him or herself what religion they want.

Freedom, of course, should extend much further. A person should be allowed to pick a career or start a business as they choose without any artificial hindrances in the way. In America, we call this the American Dream. Freedom is a universal requirement of man. Where it exists, men thrive. Where it doesn’t, they don’t.

The government should be restricted and limited, not given free permission to do what it wants. It comes of no surprise that Obama or, when in office, Bush, can think that the government should be allowed to “chart its own course”—their dream, I am sure.

The idea that Iraq or any other country “can decide on their own” what they want shows that our moral fabric has turned away from one of values and towards one of ethical subjectivism. To say that Iraq, a country, can do whatever it wants is not freedom. It is statism.

The only time a “nation,” or specifically a few elected officials, have to decide a course of action on behalf of the rest of the nation is regarding foreign policy, e.g., when to go to war, when to enact trade restrictions, etc. Such decisions should be guided by objective principles. The only guiding principle should be the self-defense of the nation. The decisions should be practical ones: deciding what specific action is best to preserve the security of the people within its borders.

If you want to advocate freedom, please remember that free will applies to people, not nations.


Amber Pawlik

August 28, 2010

Amber is a graduate from Penn State with a degree in Industrial Engineering. She works in the field of modeling and simulation and writes on topics from an Objectivist / free market perspective in her spare time. Her interests are economics, national security, education, and gender / dating. She is happily married.