Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The quest for freedom remains unchecked

George Melloan, The Wall Street Journal - Freedom House in New York yesterday released its annual report on how many people live in free societies. The news was once again good, with 27 countries and one territory showing gains and only nine showing setbacks. "The past year was one of the most successful for freedom since Freedom House began measuring world freedom in 1972," the report said.

...If the Iraqis and Afghans pull through under far more serious and lethal pressures and establish reasonably stable governments and economic bases, Mr. Bush will have won his big gamble in taking the war on terror to the places where terrorism is hatched. There will still be Iran and Syria to deal with, but the tide will have turned in the U.S. favor. The people of the Middle East will have won as well, gaining the promise of a better future.

That kind of future is being sought, particularly by young people, in benighted places all around the world. In such diverse societies as Belarus, Cuba and China -- as well as Iran -- there is ferment below the surface. New generations are becoming more politically conscious and increasingly aware that they are being denied their human dignity and individuality. Access to modern means of communication allows them to see how the other half of the world lives, not only in a material sense but in freedom from the fear of violence and abuse practiced by ruling thugs. It is not easy to overthrow police states, but it isn't easy either for politicians to rule people who resent brutal dominance.