Over the last two years, President Bush has delivered an extraordinary series of speeches, notable not so much for their occasional eloquence as for their remarkable substance. Closely argued, full of information, and born of the high tradition of American idealism, Bush’s speeches are creating a formidable historical legacy.
Today’s speech (full text here) showcased the principal rationale for the Iraq war: the administration’s long-term project of bringing freedom to the Arab world. Here is the conclusion:
“Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe, because in the long run stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty. As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment and violence ready for export. And with the spread of weapons that can bring catastrophic harm to our country and to our friends, it would be reckless to accept the status quo.
“Therefore the United States has adopted a new policy: a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East. This strategy requires the same persistence and energy and idealism we have shown before and it will yield the same results.
“As in Europe, as in Asia, as in every region of the world, the advance of freedom leads to peace.
“The advance of freedom is the calling of our time. It is the calling of our country. From the 14 Points to the Four Freedoms to the speech at Westminster, America has put our power at the service of principle.
“We believe that liberty is the design of nature. We believe that liberty is the direction of history. We believe that human fulfillment and excellence come in the responsible exercise of liberty. And we believe that freedom, the freedom we prize, is not for us alone. It is the right and the capacity of all mankind.
“Working for the spread of freedom can be hard, yet America has accomplished hard tasks before. Our nation is strong. We’re strong of heart. And we’re not alone. Freedom is finding allies in every country. Freedom finds allies in every culture.
“And as we meet the terror and violence of the world, we can be certain the author of freedom is not indifferent to the fate of freedom. With all the tests and all the challenges of our age, this is, above all, the age of liberty.”
The contrast between President Bush’s vision and the petty partisanship of his Democratic rivals is painful, if you think there is some chance that one of them might defeat him.
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“Arise and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.” Winston Churchill
“Proclaim Liberty throughout All the land unto All the Inhabitants Thereof.” Inscription on the Liberty Bell