President George W. Bush’s second inaugural address set forth an ambitious vision of the role of the United States in advancing the cause of freedom worldwide, fueling worldwide speculation over the course of American foreign policy during the next four years. The ideas expressed in Bush’s speech thus deserve serious consideration.
“It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture,” Bush declared, “with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.”
There is a bow to diplomacy in the assurance that fulfilling this mission “is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend our friends and ourselves by force of arms when necessary.” Similarly, Bush recognizes that outsiders cannot force liberty on people. Instead, “Freedom by its nature must be chosen and defended by citizens and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities.”
Finally, there is acceptance of diversity, for “when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom and make their own way.”