Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Fwd: The West

'Consider the following sentences. First: "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty."
And second: "I call ... upon Russia to use its considerable influence over separatist leaders to stop any form of military, political or financial support. ... Those responsible for the escalation must stop their hostile actions and live up to their commitments."
The first was spoken by John F. Kennedy in his 1961 Inaugural Address. The second came from the European Union's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, after Russian-backed rebels shelled the Ukrainian city of Mariupol last month, killing 30 people. Kennedy's sentence is a statement of Western self-confidence. Ms. Mogherini's is shot through with self-doubt. The 1961 sentence rings with moral certainty; the 2015 one is a nod to legal provisions, cautious even by the standards of modern diplomacy. There is a dangerous side to this new self-restraint. Just how hollow and cold, I ask myself, has the West become?
Ms. Mogherini's comment comes at a time when the idea that the spread of freedom — democracy, market economy, equal rights for men and women — will lead to a more open and just world is losing its universal appeal.
How the West Turns on Itself

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