The Corner

Re Post-Bush Foreign Policy

Rich, re your post earlier today, I think there’s another option. One doesn’t have to believe that “people everywhere have the same yearning for freedom” in order to believe that American foreign policy should be to support those who do yearn for freedom – even if they constitute a minority in places such as the Middle East.

American conservatives supported pro-democracy dissidents behind the Iron Curtain long before they constituted a majority. Indeed, I’m not sure they constitute a majority in Russia now.

I would argue that the primary mission of the United States – in Iraq and elsewhere – is to defeat America’s enemies.

But our secondary mission is to support those fighting totalitarianism and tyranny, those struggling to build societies that guarantee liberty, the rule of law and fundamental human rights. (And, for the record, I don’t think the Bush administration is carrying out this mission as well as it should be.)

Surely those inspired by the American democratic experiment are entitled to some expectation that we will assist them – or at least not get too cozy with their oppressors.

If Americans do not to support pro-freedom dissidents and movements, if Americans don’t support democratic values and institutions abroad, what will we support? “Friendly” dictators? Our “sons of bitches”? “Stability”? That approach been tried and it has failed – repeatedly.

Clifford D. May — Clifford D. May is an American journalist and editor. He is the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative policy institute created shortly after the 9/11 attacks, ...

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