Sunday, December 10, 2006

What Do We Stand For?

We know, or at least we think we know, what our enemies stand for. But what do we stand for?

We won the Cold War because of the power of our ideas, not the strength of our military. Communism did not collapse--whatever the Republicans say--because it could not compete economically. It could not compete economically, because it could not compete with the power of Western thought. The Soviet Union lost the race because it could not inspire its people as much as the West could inspire its citizens.

So, what do we stand for now? Is the United States still a beacon of liberty, freedom and opportunity? Even after abu Ghraib, "extraordinary rendition," and Guantanamo Bay? Even as the gap between rich and poor grow exponentially? Do we still offer the people of the world a better way of life than our enemies?

I'd like to think so, but I'm a lot less certain of that than I was a few years ago, and that worries me deeply.

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