patten118_Anthony KwanGetty Images_hongkongprotestdemocracy Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

Saving Liberal Democracy

Advocates of free and open societies must not only stand up to assaults on their values by Chinese President Xi Jinping and other like-minded leaders. They also must show that they still believe in liberal democracy themselves.

LONDON – I belong to a fortunate generation. Born in the United Kingdom in 1944, toward the end of a world war that killed between 70 million and 85 million people, I have neither been bombed nor had to fight on any battlefields.

I grew up in a country and continent that were at peace and thus able to enjoy the economic benefits of unprecedented cross-border cooperation. The West repelled the Soviet Union’s military threat without conflict, thereby liberating its European empire to join the rest of a free continent.

In particular, Europe and other parts of the world benefited from the leadership of the economically and militarily powerful United States. More important than America’s hard power was the power of the ideas that it embraced, exemplified, and exported. The US was far from perfect, and it made mistakes. But overall, it set a prodigious example of generosity and demonstrated the boundless possibilities of well-ordered freedom.

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