Today, July 4th is Independence Day in the United States. On this day in 1776, fifty-six representatives of the thirteen British colonies in North America declared that “by the authority of the people” they were establishing a new nation. It would take another six years of war with Britain, then the world's foremost military power, before American independence was won.
In 1782, the United States of America was far from united. It was, in fact, a loose confederation with a weak central government. Real power lay with the state governments. But the states differed widely in religious practice, political opinion, and economic interests. States erected tariff and trade barriers against each other. Currency was inflated and crippling tax burdens were imposed. Economic chaos led to civil unrest. Conflicts arose between the states over boundaries. The national government lacked military forces to deal with security threats.
Americans began to look for ways to address these problems. It took them another seven years to do so. The answer was a new constitution that would establish a national government strong enough to deal with the country's needs, while reserving certain powers to the states. But Americans were divided about the form the new government should take. Small states wanted equal representation with large states. Many citizens feared that a strong national government would suppress individual liberties. The issues were resolved only after years of debate and compromise.
The new constitution was ratified in 1789 only after ten amendments were added guaranteeing fundamental rights, including freedom of religion, speech, and press, the right to trial by jury, and other protections against human rights abuses.
Today, the people of Iraq stand at a crossroads similar to that which Americans and other free peoples have faced. President George W. Bush says America stands with them:
“We’re helping Iraqis build a free nation that is an ally in the war on terror. We’re advancing freedom in the broader Middle East. We are removing a source violence and instability, and laying the foundations of peace for our children and our grandchildren.”
Americans “accept these burdens,” said Mr. Bush, because they know “the rise of democracy will be the ultimate triumph over radicalism and terror.”
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.