It’s not at all clear that the free people of the world are still willing to make the choices—let alone the requisite sacrifices—to protect our rights and liberties.
In a recent speech to the United Nations, President Donald Trump mixed his praise of the United States’ capacity to do good with a warning. “We have it in our power,” he said, “should we so choose, to lift millions from poverty, to help our citizens realize their dreams, and to ensure that new generations of children are raised free from violence, hatred, and fear.”
Unfortunately, it’s not at all clear that the free people of the world are still willing to make the choices—let alone the requisite sacrifices—to achieve those universally admired goals.
‘They Always Blame America First’
At the 1984 Republican National Convention, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick delivered a defense of America’s role in the world known today as the “blame America first” speech. She reeled off a list of the challenges the free world faced and noted that contemporary Democrats typically found causation for those problems in American policy rather than in a readily identifiable bad actor. “But then,” she twisted the knife, “they always blame America first.”
In 1984, this was a scathing indictment. Kirkpatrick’s speech both reinforced the way President Reagan had made the country feel about itself—a renewed belief in our own greatness and mission in the world—and hammered the post-Vietnam moral uncertainty (or worse) of the American Left.
Kirkpatrick continued: “The American people…understand, just as the distinguished French writer, Jean Francois Revel, understands the dangers of endless self-criticism and self-denigration. He wrote, ‘Clearly a civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself.’”