As noteworthy as what President Bush said in this and similar passages of his remarkable second inaugural is what he did not say. In particular, he did not declare the force upon which we must increasingly depend for ?the survival of liberty in our land? to be the United Nations or multilateralism or supranational government.
Rather, Mr. Bush said the critical determinant of our future well-being will be the ?success of liberty in other lands.? And that success will depend in no small measure on the United States playing the role that its history, values and vital interests have made it uniquely suited to play:
From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time.
Again, the President did not suggest that the United Nations or its sister organizations can be counted on to meet ?the calling of our time.? Instead, he pledged that, ?All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.?
Not since Ronald Reagan occupied the Oval Office has the world been treated to such an unapologetic enunciation of American exceptionalism or such an unvarnished assessment of the futility of expecting others ? most especially international organizations in which tyrannical oppressors are well-represented ? to stand with the oppressed.
Importantly, Mr. Bush made plain that such support would not be simply rhetorical. Although he acknowledged ?America's influence is not unlimited,? the President went on to observe that, ?Fortunately for the oppressed, America's influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom's cause.?
For the United States to be able to exercise influence ?in freedom?s cause,? however, it must preserve the sovereignty and wherewithal to act, despite predictable opposition from despot-dominated UN councils ? in league with others if possible, unilaterally if necessary.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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