A pivotal time: Does the ‘free world’ care about the freedom of others?

This is a defining time not only for those who desire and fight for freedom, but also for those who have the freedom that others long for. On the one hand, authoritarianism and human rights violations are on the rise around the world, causing an epidemic of oppression and suffering. On the other hand, Ukraine’s brave resistance to Russia’s genocidal war, brave protests in Iran, China, Cuba and other hot spots show that brutality does not destroy the human spirit.

The free world should see the urgency and opportunity at this moment. As passionate demands for freedom and crackdowns on civil society intensify, free people should show that they care about the freedom of others.

Current geopolitical trends are not favorable to freedom. The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance reports that the number of countries moving toward authoritarianism is more than double that toward democracy, and that authoritarian countries have deepened their repression.

Freedom House finds that abuse has increased in recent years in all regions of the world. Humanity has fallen from dictators in China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Myanmar, and elsewhere. Although China, Russia, and Iran are different, they form an anti-American front that includes military cooperation and disinformation.

By supporting Syrian butcher Bashar Assad and supporting anti-democratic forces in the Middle East, Russia and Iran have pushed the region backwards. Meanwhile, the US hastily withdrew from Iraq, ignored atrocities in Syria, handed over Afghanistan to the Taliban, and failed to build on the Abraham Accords.

Nature does not like a vacuum.

A grim indicator of freedom’s trajectory came this month when Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The two countries have strengthened their partnership in energy and defense and signed major agreements on investment in infrastructure and technology. Particularly damaging to human rights, the Saudi-led Arab League agreed to a statement supporting China’s “efforts” and “stance” in Hong Kong and “rejecting any independence of Taiwan.”

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Despite all this, people all over the world feel and seek freedom.

While multilaterals justify generous economic deals and strategic compromises with brutal regimes as fitting an enlightened world that embraces cultural differences, they must ignore human nature and the human desire to do so. Because no matter what culture a person lives in – regardless of race, nationality or religion – no one wants their family and friends to be subject to the brutal dictates and methods of authoritarianism or totalitarianism. Those who ignore human rights in the name of “international relations” violate America’s founding idea that rights are God-given and universal, that governments cannot grant or take them away.

As freedom movements reveal that the emperor of multilateralism has no clothes, will those who believed that other nations and regions were not “ready” for freedom rise to the challenge of holding on to a worldview that allows them to ignore the suffering of others. ?

Will the Free World show that it cares about others?

Will the United States be worthy of the trust of the protesters who are clamoring for their own inspired political systems?

Given post-Cold War mindsets and post-Cold War politics, it is by no means clear that democracies in America, Europe and Asia will welcome this moment: the moral relativism, economic globalism, isolationist tendencies and identity politics of our time are excuses. for inertia. They allow us to see indifference and silence as “tolerance” and selfishness as empowerment. They prioritize home comforts and global harmony, and suggest that we can have them if we stop insulting other countries with our “values.” That rejection of values ​​is compelling the reason for the defense of universal rights is difficult to understand. The idea that there is no better or worse than each person or group’s definition of these things contradicts the idea that in order to be good and free, we must consider the plight of our loved ones.

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As complacency about our safety and our well-being reinforced our immorality, threats to the way of life we ​​took for granted grew. It turns out that neither a philosophy of “coexistence” nor a narrow focus on our own comfort is enough to avoid the problems of good and evil that we think we have left behind.

When America and America’s allies fail to condemn, sanction, and deter escalating hostilities and atrocities, they compound the damage. Take Ukraine, where the West reacted too timidly to the threat of a Russian invasion and overarmed Kiev as a genocidal war broke out. Or Iran, where the Biden administration has expressed minimal support for the people while naively diplomatically displaying a ruthless regime.

A reassessment of post-Cold War assumptions and a return to the lessons of World War II will be required to successfully respond to this moment, which, while fraught with peril, is also fraught with promise.

True, the sweeping indoctrination and relentless intimidation in Russia and China have been alarmingly successful. But this is all the more reason for democracies to model and promote an alternative, especially given the crimes against humanity committed by these powers and the current discontent among the people of Russia and China.

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Hitler’s deceptions and conquests taught us that moral, strategic and military lethargy is back to haunt us. We learned that totalitarians to use diplomacy to buy time and lull the Free World. They to use democratic tolerance to avoid consequence and judgment. Conversely, when we expose and challenge the crimes, lies and expansionist agendas of malign regimes, dictators are on the defensive. Why else would they waste massive resources on disinformation? They know that the truth about their rule is the biggest threat to their rule.

While they hope that the Free World will not take deterrence seriously, the enemies of freedom also hope that we will remain as quiet and sullen as we have been since the end of the Cold War. It is time to rediscover your voice and your principles; to show what and for whom we stand – and why.

Anne R. Pierce is the author of books and articles on American foreign policy, American presidents, and American society. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, is an appointed fellow of the James Madison Society of Princeton University, and was editor of Transaction Publishers’ political science series. Follow her @AnneRPierce


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