"Mandela made choices no man should ever have to make about whether to lead a people into bloodshed for a just cause. In an interview with Time magazine shortly before he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, Mandela said Chief Albert Luthuli, former ANC president and Nobel winner, “believed in nonviolence as a way of life. But we who were in touch with the grass-roots persuaded the chief that if we did not begin the armed struggle, then people would proceed without guidance.”
Dick Cheney has had to make life-and-death choices of his own. His handlers are burnishing his star in large part based on his role in the Gulf War, a conflict that took on an elephant-and-flea aspect as American tanks rolled over fleeing Iraqui soldiers. Now, in the most American of parlays, Cheney has come back, briefcase in hand, to help Iraqi oil interests rebuild. Both partisan allies and veteran journalists call him a civil man, an intelligent man. But while people deride knee-jerk liberalism, there is such a thing as knee-jerk conservatism, as well, as evidenced by the laundry list of Cheney votes on issues from armor-piercing bullets to voting to cut funding for Head Start.
America prides itself on its just wars. World War II produced what many now call “the Greatest Generation,” and the Revolutionary War gave us our birth. But every battle leaves scars, some deeper than others. Even America could not accomplish its revolution without a full-fledged war. Nelson Mandela, through a mix of the violence he loathed and hard-won prison diplomacy, accomplished that. Rather than calling him a terrorist, most Americans consider him a hero of democracy.
We should think clearly about how we define democracy, how inclusive it is and how far in the future our leaders must look to make the right choices for our nation, and the world."